Stealing Death

School Library Journal

Starred review *CAREY, Janet Lee.
Stealing Death. 360p. Egmont USA. Sept. 2009. Tr $16.99.
ISBN 978-1-60684-009-2; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-045-0. Gr 7 Up
With this novel, Carey goes beyond common fantasy fare in several dimensions. Unusual for this day and age of series that go on and on, Stealing Death is a complete story in a single volume. “Pales” are immigrants who have fled south from their northern continent’s troubles and who are looked down upon by the native Zolyans. One morning Kipp, 17, leaves his little brother in charge of lighting the stove so that he can attempt to capture a wild horse whose sale might save the family farm during this time of drought, when there is no money to pay the landlord. He fails and returns to find his home engulfed in flames. Kipp manages to save his sister, but not his parents or brother. It is at this moment that his Naqui powers come to him, allowing him to see the Gwali, “the collector of souls.” Kipp cannot stop his family’s souls from entering the Kwaja, the Gwali’s sack, but vows to do whatever it takes to steal it and prevent others he loves from dying. Steal it he does, but that is only the beginning. Carey’s wonderful language weaves family, love, wise teachers, and petty villains together in a vast landscape. It calls to mind Hilari Bell’s “Farsala” trilogy (S & S), but this is truly a unique work. Verdict: This is quite simply fantasy at its best–original, beautiful, amazing, and deeply moving.–Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Dragon’s Keep


*Starred Review* In stunning, lyrical prose, Carey tells the story of Rosalind, a twelfth-century princess destined for greatness by a prophecy from Merlin: the twenty-first queen of Wilde Island, which is plagued by dragons, will do three great things. Rosalind is to be that queen, but because she was born with a finger that looks exactly like a dragon’s claw, she always wears gloves of gold. If exposed, her deformity will mark her as a witch and spell her doom, so anyone who finds out about it has died. Her life takes a strange turn during the summer Rosalind is 16; she is plucked from the ground by a dragon and flown to its keep high in the mountains on another island to serve as nursemaid to its four motherless pips. Carey smoothly blends many traditional fantasy tropes here, but her telling is fresh as well as thoroughly compelling. Fantasy fans wanting a slightly different take on dragons might enjoy books by N. M. Brown and JasonHightman. DianaHerald Copyright©American Library Association. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal

*Starred Review*. Grade 6–10
Nonstop action may keep readers glued to this page-turner, but strong writing and character development are what will make it linger in their memories long after they’ve finished it. Princess Rosalind Pendragon is meant to fulfill a 600-year-old prophecy from Merlin that she will restore her family’s good name and end a war. Rosalind was born with one dragon talon, which is a fearful secret known only to the teen and her mother. It is kept hidden by the golden gloves that Rosalind is never without, and over the years, the queen tries desperately to find a cure for the curse. When Rosalind reveals her claw to Lord Faul, a dragon that has been terrorizing the island, her destiny is set in motion. Taken by him to be nursemaid to his motherless children, she learns of her dragon blood and of her mother’s treachery. Rosalind and the dragons are bound together in a complex relationship that, in the end, helps her fulfill the prophecy. Her heroic journey comes full circle, and she finds internal peace as well as peace for her people. While the story has roots in traditional fairy tales and legends, the author has crafted something new and magical, and unexpected plot twists will surprise readers throughout. Lord Faul and Rosalind, whose personality is a fantastic combination of Joan of Arc, Briar Rose, and Patricia Wrede’s Princess Cimarron, develop so well as characters that readers will be touched by them. Devotees of fantasy adventure stories will certainly find treasure here.—Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publisher’s Weekly

Janet Lee Carey. Harcourt, $17 (320p) ISBN 978-0-15-205926-2
Carey (Wenny Has Wings) has written a romantic fantasy steeped in the Arthurian tradition of knights, dragons and lost kingdoms. After eloping with an outlaw, King Arthur’s sister, Evaine, is banished to Wilde Island. Merlin, however, foresees a prophecy regarding the 21st queen in her future lineage: “She shall redeem the name Pendragon. End war with the wave of her hand. And restore the glory of Wilde Island.” Centuries later, Queen Gweneth (the infertile queen number 20) devours an egg stolen from the dragon, Lord Faul, in an attempt to conceive. When she does give birth, her daughter, Rosalind, is born with the “devil’s mark”: her left hand bears a claw in place of one finger. Rosalind hides her hands underneath golden gloves and Queen Gweneth repeatedly commits murder to preserve the secret. The lonely princess doubts any man will ever marry her, but when she meets Kye-a young knight who vanquished a female dragon that has plagued Wilde Island-she falls in love. Soon after, Rosalind is captured by Lord Faul (her true father) and becomes nursemaid to his offspring, known as pips. When one of the pips drowns, Lord Faul’s tears quench his “inner fire,” killing him and ending Rosalind’s capture. She returns to Wilde Island to claim her rightful place as queen, and though she is put on trial for being a witch, Rosalind’s “curse” ultimately becomes her triumph. Fantasy lovers will readily empathize with this brave heroine who learns to be true to herself. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

The Beast of Noor

Children’s Literature – Anita Barnes Lowen

“Many long years ago a loyal dog was betrayed by his master and cursed by Death’s own man, the Darro. Now man’s best friend has become his worst enemy–a beast of monstrous size and immense power that “returns at the time of the dark moon to hunt human prey in Shalem Wood.” No one in the village of Noor has forgotten who created the beast, especially Miles and Hanna. It was their ancestor, Rory, who gave his dog to the Darro in exchange for his own life. Now Miles, fearing his dream-walking sister will be taken next, is determined to slay the Shriker. And soon thereafter Hanna must find her way to the other world where Miles has disappeared. Can she free her brother from the spell that has transformed him into the very beast he is trying to defeat? Does Miles want to be freed? Or has the power and cunning that is part of the monster he has become overwhelmed his desire to be human again? A flawless tale spun from myth, mystery, and magic that will enthrall everyone who loves fantasy.”
— Children’s Literature – Anita Barnes Lowen

School Library Journal

Grade 5-8
Miles and Hanna Ferrell live near Shalem Wood where a beast known as the Shriker has been attacking villagers for 300 years. Everyone knows his story–he was once a faithful dog betrayed by his owner, given to an evil master (another Ferrell), and cursed to kill at the time of the dark moon. Miles is determined to break the curse and win the admiration of the town. It doesn’t take long for him to get in over his head, and meek, quiet Hanna has to overcome her shyness if she is to save him. Or, will the siblings just become two more of the beast’s victims? The story has plenty of intrigue and danger, and the characters are realistically drawn. While well written, the plot is just a tad predictable, which, in fact, adds to its charm as the novel reads almost like a fairy tale, with the same rhythms and the same etiquette. Recommend it to lovers of (very mild) horror and suspense or to those who enjoy old-fashioned fairy tales. All in all, a fun read.–Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Gr. 6-9.
The Sheens have always been considered outsiders because legend has it that a Sheen brought a monstrous dog, the Shriker, to the woods 300 years ago. Although the beast disappeared for a long time, it has begun to return in search of human prey, and when a local girl’s bones are found in the woods, the villagers blame the clan. Such is the premise of this story of 15-year-old Miles Sheen and his 13-year-old sister, Hanna, who are determined to break the family curse. The action tracks between two linked worlds, as Miles is drawn into the Otherworld in pursuit of the Shriker, and Hanna follows. Carey delivers an eerie, atmospheric tale, full of terror and courage, set in a convincingly realized magical realm. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Teens Read Too, March 8, 2007

By “Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier.” (All Over the US & Canada) – See all my reviews

Miles and Hanna Ferrell live in the country in Ennes Isle, just outside of Shalem Wood. Miles wants nothing more in life than to go to Othlore and be trained in magic. He’s been studying with the Falconer, but he feels like his teacher is holding him back more than he’s helping. If only the Falconer would teach Miles a few spells… Hanna just desperately wants to feel normal and safe. But between her different colored eyes, the legend surrounding her family, and especially since the return of the Shriker, it doesn’t look like normal or safe are in Hanna’s future.

Stranded in a cave to escape a surprise storm, Grandpa tells them again the legend of the Shriker. He tells them how the Shriker used to be a brave and faithful dog, until he ways betrayed by his own master and cursed by death himself. Now, as the Shriker, he hunts human prey every full moon. The master who betrayed him, Rory Sheen, happens to be an ancestor of Miles and Hanna. Now that he’s back the brother and sister won’t be safe in the village, and no one is safe in the woods once the sun goes down.

When Miles tries to take matters into his own hands, things get more than a little out of control. Suddenly it’s up to Hanna to save him. Hanna was always the quiet one. The one who stood back and let Miles handle things. The one who asked for the happy tales by the fire, because the others scared her too much. Now, she’s right in the middle of the scariest one of all, and if she ever wants to see her brother again she’ll need to find a lot of inner strength, and quickly.

This is a great, creepy, interesting tale. I don’t know how comfortable I would be hearing it at a fire on a dark night. Granted, I’m a big wimp, but that’s only part of the point. It’s scary enough for those who are looking for that, but it’s also a great story, which is what good legends are. There’s a fair amount of fantasy, a little magic, personal discovery, even a sweet little love story woven in. There’s a little bit of something for everyone. Perfect for a stormy, foggy night, curled up with hot chocolate, warm and safe in your house.

Reviewed by: Carrie Spellman


Determined to break the Shriker’s curse, Miles steals a spell from his mentor, setting in motion a complex weave of force and power well beyond this world, and drawing Miles into a journey that will require all his courage, and from which only Hanna and her ingenuity can save him. One after the other, the brash, well-intentioned hero and the plucky young heroine enter a realm of betrayal, honor, destiny, and otherworldly justice. Plot twists combine with magic, suspense, legend, challenge, and redemption. [This]will appeal most to dedicated fantasy readers.

Reviewed by: Kim Carter

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Publication Date: 01-FEB-07
Books To Look For by Charles de Lint

At the length of belaboring a point I’ve made in this column before, I’d like to return for a moment to the late sixties/early seventies. If a fantasy fan from those days was to see the vast cornucopia of material available to us here in the first part of the twenty-first century, they’d think they’d died and gone to heaven. (Mind you, the cultural shock in terms of technological advancement might be enough to give them a heart attack, but I digress.)

At that earlier point in time, when I first began to read fantasy, you had to work to find the sort of book we take for granted now. We had the Unicorn imprint from Ballantine under the editorship of Lin Carter; Dover books with their reprints of classic books by Leslie Barringer, Robert W. Chambers, and others that had fallen into public domain; and the odd offering from other publishers that was usually hidden in their sf line. With so little material readily available, readers would scour used book stores for the grail of titles by the likes of Lord Dunsany and William Morris. Or we’d plunder the mainstream sections of the book stores for reprints by, say, Thorne Smith.

Or we’d look to the children’s book section. (I might be wrong, but I think the term Young Adult was still to come — just as was the idea of a dedicated fantasy genre.)

One of the best sources for quality material in those days was Atheneum — the imprint that brought us such luminaries as Susan Cooper and Patricia McKillip, the latter still offering up perfect fantasy jewels at least once a year, albeit from a different publisher now. I have many fond memories of those early Atheneum titles, curled up in a reading chair late at night, letting the words take me away into the magical otherworlds to be found in their pages.

So it was with great delight that I found The Beast of Noor to be upholding that fine tradition.

Janet Lee Carey’s new book has that same timeless quality of the best of fantasy. There’s not a lot of exposition. Instead, we’re immediately plunged into the island world of Hanna Ferrell and her brother Miles, finding out about the island community and the wide world beyond its shores only when necessary, and in passing. What’s surprising is that her earlier three books have contemporary settings. Where did she get the authorial chops to write such a resonant fantasy novel, individual, but still touching on all the tropes that draw readers to this sort of a book?

It doesn’t really matter. All we need to do is crack open the cover and slip into the story.

Hanna and Miles are outsiders. Their family is related to the Sheens, an island family that, long before the book begins, was responsible for bringing into being the Shriker, a giant murderous dog that lures its victims into the untamed forest.

Gone for some time, the Shriker has returned, and a young girl from the village is the beast’s latest victim. Her death firms Miles’s resolve to make right the errors of his ancestors — a determination that only grows stronger when he realizes Hanna has begun to have the dreams that will have her sleepwalk into the forest where the Shriker will be waiting for her.

As usual, I don’t like to go into a lot of plot details — how a story unfolds should be the reader’s pleasure. But let me assure you that Carey is a generous and lyrical author. She doesn’t waste words, but the immediacy of her prose carries in it the brevity of good poetry, and a contemporary flair. The Beast of Noor reads like a fairy tale — but a sustained, substantial one, with plenty of solid characterization and the sort of magical moments that will have your heart sing in one moment then shiver in the next.

Is it a Young Adult novel? Yes, if you still consider McKillip’s books to be YA.

Will an adult fantasy reader enjoy it? Without question.

Highly recommended.

a review by Dominique, 2006 Demi-Goddess

The Beast of Noor by Janet Lee Carey
A Quest of a Lifetime!

When a young lady vanished during the night, the worst is feared. Unfortunately, the bones of the young lady is found in the woods soon after. There is only one possibility for this death—the feared Shriker. The Shriker has haunted and hunted in the land of Noor for centuries and it seems as if there will be no end to these horrific attacks.

Living in a village in Noor are two young adults: Miles and Hanna Ferrell. Listening to tales told by their Granda they learn that years before, the Shriker was a loyal dog to his master, but was betrayed, and thus placing a curse on him. The Shriker was condemned to a life of being a powerful beast but also a hated monster. Miles and Hanna also learn that the very man who betrayed the dog is their ancestor.

Miles is learning music and other subjects from the respected Falconer, who is a ‘leafer’ or healer. Miles hopes to go to Othlore one day to study real magic with the meers. Hanna on the other hand, does not study with the Falconer, and believes she is not a very brave person.

Soon, learning magic or not, these two will embark on a thrilling quest to conquer the Shriker and end the reign of terror he poses. But to do so, they must enter a parallel world, where there are fairies, trolls, and unicorns, and endless dangers. But believing that Hanna would be the next victim of the Shriker, Miles sets out to destroy the beast, despite the warnings and advice that he should wait and learn more first. Will Hanna be able to pluck up the courage to go to the aid of her brother and work with him to destroy the Shriker?

The Beast of Noor may have started slightly slow, but soon enough it will have you staying up to read more pages! An enjoyable tale that does not (thankfully) over do the blood and gore, and will appeal to fans of legends, adventures and myths!

Wenny Has Wings

Midwest Book Review

Wenny Has Wings is a powerful, emotional, highly recommended story about learning to cope with grief and loss.

Kirkus June 2002

A gentle epistolary novel requiring at least three hankies. Eleven-year-old Will writes to his seven-year-old sister Wenny. A truck hit them both on their way to a craft store, and Wenny was killed. Will remembers a dark tunnel and a bright warm light; he remembers seeing his little sister fly past him into that light. Through months of healing his broken parts, Will writes to Wenny about how much he misses her; about how angry he is that she left them; about how pinched and cold his father and his pregnant mother are; and how there is ho light or air around them, and no words for him. The tropes of boyhood – family pets, toy action figures, a three house, a spitting contest, and above all, the creek tunnel the kids call “the tunnel of death” – function almost as sacraments. Will’s dad moves out for a while, Will and his mother try to re-make Wenny’s room for the new baby, Will finds a way to celebrate Wenny’s birthday. His grief comes in almost textbook steps, but Carey’s (Molly’s Fire, 2000) sweet and pointed language saves it from mawkishness, illuminating those steps vividly. Like Susan Katz’s Snowdrops for Cousin Ruth (1998), it allows a heartrending glimpse into what happens in a family when a child dies. (Fiction. 8-12)

Children’s Bookwatch Midwest Book Review June 2002

Wenny Has Wings is an engaging novel written for young readers age 8 to 12, and is about a brother and sister who are both involved in a deadly accident. Little sister Wenny dies, leaving her brother alone, sad, and angry. Will’s pastor tells him that when he’s angry he should write letters to God, but Will decides to write letters to Wenny instead. Wenny Has Wings is a powerful, emotional, highly recommended story about learning to cope with grief and loss.

Booklist, July 2002

Will North and his seven-year-old sister, Wenny were crossing the street when a truck’s breaks failed. Both of them died, but the doctor brought Will back. Now he must deal with the loss of his sister and his drastically changed parents, who barely acknowledge on another and find it difficult to deal with his survival… Carey provides an interesting take on a fresh topic-children who have near-death experiences. Will tells his story in a series of letters to Wenny. He blames himself for not being able to protect her, and he’s angry with her for leaving him alone… despite the many books on death, this one stands apart-for its particularly good job of illuminating the sibling relationship and its unique capturing of the phenomenon of heading into the light.

The Double Life of Zoe Flynn

Bookloons Reviews

The Flynn family of Tillerman, California face hard-times. Dad has been laid off from his teaching job at the local college, and his Horizon Books store had to be closed down. Their landlord has sold the house the Flynns have been renting. Much to the dismay of eleven-year old Zoe Flynn, the family has to move to find work elsewhere, living in their van. Leaving the life Zoe has known is not easy, especially leaving her friend Kellen.

The Flynn family – Dad, Mom, Zoe, and brother Juke – sell most of their possessions. They travel five hundred miles to Scout River, Oregon where Dad takes on two jobs – teaching literature part-time, and selling products at a camping supply store. Mom does cleaning jobs at various homes. Zoe’s parents work hard to save money to rent an apartment, continuing to live in their van in the meantime. Zoe and Jake enroll in Einstein Elementary School. Zoe’s first friend is Aliya, and their first-day writing assignment is ‘How I Spent My Summer’. Zoe titles her composition ‘My Camping Trip’, as she continues to lead her ‘double life’, keeping secret the fact that her home is a van.

Zoe earns money each week dusting Mrs. Garmo’s mobile-home living room and walking her poodles. Her friend Aliya begins to wonder why Zoe never invites her to her home. Zoe is not able to tell even her best friend that her family lives in a van, and Aliya takes it personally, assuming that Zoe’s family must be prejudiced against her Muslim family. The van breaks down, and needs major repairs which dip into their savings. And Officer Bergstrom seems to be following Zoe and Juke around town. Very discouraged with her family plight, Zoe is homesick for their old home.

Over a four-day weekend, Zoe tells her parents she will be at Aliya’s house, but secretly buys a bus ticket to Tillerman. She looks through the window at her old bedroom and is especially saddened to find that her hide-out closet has been torn down. Since the family left Tillerman, Zoe has carried the magic glass doorknob Grandma had given her. While in Tillerman, Zoe performs a heroic act, and when she returns to Oregon, she takes on the challenge to make Scout River her hometown. ‘The dark-haired girl with big brown eyes used to live in an old two-story house. The house was white on the outside and creamy white on the inside’, Zoe tells herself in the mirror.

The Double Life of Zoe Flynn is a touching story of family life, facing and coping with change, while learning lessons in courage, and compromise. I enjoyed it though I was disappointed that Grandma (in a Tillerman nursing home) gets only brief recognition. Janet Lee Carey, who grew up in a house much like Zoe’s, is a teacher who also wrote Wenny Has Wings and Molly’s Fire. Carey says, ‘May you search far and wide for your place as Zoe did. And may you find the door.’ – review by J.A. Kazuba Locke

Molly’s Fire

Booklist Review April, 2000

When Molly’s family receives word that her father’s plane has been shot down over Holland by the Germans and he is presumed dead, she refuses to believe it. Lieutenant Fowler has survived crashes before, and Molly is certain he will send a sign that he is still alive. … Molly steadfastly holds onto the hope, especially after she spies a German prisoner of war carrying a pocket watch that looks exactly like her father’s. Carey paints a realistic portrait of wartime deprivation on the American home front. Subplots involving prejudices (against a friend who is of Japanese descent, a woman suspected of being a spy because she speaks German) And Molly attempts to re-create a stained glass window depicting St. George and the Dragon, are also well handled… Give this to fans of Patricia Reilly Giff’s Lily’s Crossing.”

VOYA Fiction Reviews August, 2000

MOLLY’S FIRE: Set during World War II, this title chronicles the experiences of a Maine family as they cope with the loss of their fighter pilot father/husband, who has been shot down and is missing in action. Assuming that he is dead, the family holds a funeral service for min. George Fowler’s thirteen-year-old daughter doesn’t believe that he is dead. They had a close relationship, and before he left, he gave her the chain to his pocked watch. He told her that although they would not be together for a while, he would reattach the chain to the watch when he returned, and they could “start right where we left off.” Molly puts great store in this promise, believing that the watch and the chain will keep her father safe.

When Molly and her friends to watch German prisoners of war working in the logging camps, one POW drops a pocket watch. Convinced that it is her father’s, Molly becomes obsessed with proving it… Molly’s tenuous relationship with her mother compels her to look for any sign that her father is still alive.
The story reads well and includes a variety of characters… This story will appeal to young readers with an interest in World War II.