Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Land of the Silver Apples

The Land of the Silver Apples

Nancy Farmer
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2007   ISBN: 978-1416907350

It is Little Yule, the longest night of the year, and the people of Jack's village are preparing to welcome a new year by lighting a "need-fire." Jack's sister Lucy is to play a vital role in the ceremony and she is going wear a new dress for the occasion. To Jack's horror Lucy insists on wearing her silver necklace, even though the Bard warned everyone that metal should not be brought anywhere near the need-fire. If this is allowed to happen then the whole ceremony will be tarnished.

Before Jack has time to warn the Bard the ceremony begins. Only at the last possible minute does the Bard see that Lucy is wearing the silver necklace. She cannot possibly be allowed to participate and another girl will have to be chosen for the honor. Since all the girls in the village are in their homes, Pega the slave girl is asked to hold the special candle. Though she is afraid, Pega does as she is bid and the new year is welcomed. Some time later Jack buys and frees Pega. He cannot bear to think of how misused she is. Jack remembers all too well what it is like to be a slave.

Unfortunately, Lucy's behavior becomes worse and worse. Her ill temper and ravings seem to be affecting everyone and so The Bard and Jack's parents decide to take Lucy to Bebba's Town where they hope they will be able to get Lucy some help. Perhaps a demon is possessing her and an exorcism is what is called for.

And so Jack, Lucy, Jack's father, the Bard, and Brother Aiden travel to Bebba's Town. What they discover is that the Abbot at St. Finnian's monastery is far more interested in lining his own pockets than he is in saving souls. His so-called exorcisms are violent and sometimes even deadly. Jack does his best to put a stop to the proceedings using magic, but he loses control and summons up an earthquake, which causes much damage. In the chaos the Lady of the Lake kidnaps Lucy and takes her away to Elfland. She also takes away the water that supplies much of the kingdom. Jack and Pega have no choice but to follow the route the Lady took, hoping that they will be able to get Lucy, and the water, back.

This book is thrilling, amusing, and thought-provoking, and it continues the story of Jack, whom we first met in The Sea of Trolls. Once again readers will get to meet all kinds of fantastical creatures, some of which are good, and some of which are absolutely frightful. Jack has to plumb inner resources that he did not even know that he had, and he also comes to learn a great deal about the people who are closest to him. Some of the revelations he has are painful, but others help him to understand and appreciate the world more than ever.