Reviews for Secret Country

Booklist Reviews 2006 June #1
Gr. 4-7. Iggy, a talking cat in Mr. Dodds' Pet Emporium, convinces 12-year-old Ben Arnold to buy him, and tells Ben about a land of magic called Eidolon, from which Iggy has been kidnapped. The cat and boy discover that with the help of Ben's evil uncle, Mr. Dodds is capturing and transporting magical creatures to modern-day Britain in a plot to weaken their magic and the magic of Eidolon. Ben also learns that he is the Prince of Eidolon, that his ailing mother is the country's long-lost queen, and that he and his two sisters are prophesied to save their mother and the magical world. Humor as well as adventure and danger abound in an entrancing start to the Eidolon Chronicles. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
Twelve-year-old Ben Arnold learns from a talking cat that his mother is the lost queen of a magical land. He finds himself trying to save Eidolon's magical animals from being smuggled to his world for hunting and taking Eidolon's magic with them. The engaging story of Ben's efforts to save Eidolon and his family will draw in readers. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 April #2
A talking cat pitches young Ben Arnold into the role of semi-reluctant Hero, as a scheme to drain Eidolon, the Hidden Land, of magic by importing its creatures to this plane puts him up against his cruel uncle and a powerful, dog-headed sorcerer. As a major Tolkien expert and the author of previous fantasies under several pseudonyms, Johnson brings unusual credentials to this series opener. However, aside from a few clever allusions (Ben lives in a house called "Grey Havens" on Underhill Road), she runs a familiar cast of snarky talking animals, clear-cut villains, bumbling goblins and oblivious humans through a routine set of chases, escapes and revelations that ends in a temporary draw. As it turns out, Ben's desperately ill mother is the Elven queen of Eidolon, and (naturally) a prophecy hints that he and his two sisters will save the day. Stay tuned. (Fantasy. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2006 April

Gr 4-7 -When a talking cat convinces Ben to purchase it from Mr. Dodds's Pet Emporium, the boy has no idea what adventures await him. Except for his one green and one brown eye, Ben seems a perfectly normal child with two sisters, a journalist father, and a mysteriously ailing mother. After a unicorn turns up at a cricket match and a wood-sprite appears in his garden, Ben finds himself enmeshed in the fate of Eidolon, the Secret Country. As each chapter unfolds, the mythic significance of seemingly ordinary events and characters deepens. Mr. Dodds, who is kidnapping creatures such as selkies and dragons from Eidolon, turns out to be a supremely evil figure from ancient legend, with Ben's Awful Uncle Aleister as his partner in crime. Wishing to help the displaced, sickened creatures return home, Ben finds the wild road that leads there and eventually goes himself. Looking through his green eye, he sees a once-beautiful magical world now corrupted and dying. He learns that his mother was queen of the Secret Country, and that he, as its prince, must try to save it from Mr. Dodds's usurpation. This readable, accessible fantasy, with its likable and all-too-human young hero, is reminiscent of C. S. Lewis's "Narnia" stories (HarperCollins). The writing is smooth and clear, and the action flows quickly, enlivened by touches of humor. Black-and-white cartoon sketches head each chapter. The wide-open ending presages a sequel.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams

[Page 141]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2006 July
This engaging fantasy, the first title in The Eidolon Chronicles, begins at a local pet store, where twelve-year-old Ben Arnold encounters a speaking cat who reveals the existence of a parallel universe called the Secret Country. Readers soon learn that the owner of the pet store is actually a poacher who is robbing the Secret Country of its creatures to sell in his shop, thus draining the alternate world of its magic. Complicating matters is Ben's discovery that his dreadful uncle is a partner in this crime. When Ben locates the portal to travel to the Secret Country, he is astonished to learn that his mother is queen of the kingdom and that she will die if the magic continues to fade. Mythical creatures, witty dialogue, and a hearty dose of suspense all lead up to the moment when Ben must be the hero to save the Secret Country and his mother's life This book will engage both seasoned and reluctant readers. Highly reminiscent of Ian Ogilvey's Measle and the Wrathmonk (HarperCollins, 2004/VOYA April 2005), the clear prose and imaginative plot combine to create an enchanting tale of adventure. Animal lovers will appreciate the playful depictions of cat behavior and the manner in which creatures are saved from unscrupulous dealers who exploit them for profit. This title is a robust addition to the juvenile fantasy genre.-Christina Fairman 5Q 4P M Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.