[Waiting on Wednesday] Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

In Magikos, life is dictated by the Book of Fate's ancient predictions, including the birth of a royal Chosen One who will save the realm. Princess Marabel has grown up in the shadow of her twin brother, Marco, who everyone assumes is the true Chosen One. While Marco is adored and given every opportunity, Marabel is overlooked and has to practice her sword fighting in secret.

But on the night of their thirteenth birthday, Marco is kidnapped by an evil queen, and Marabel runs to his rescue. Outside the castle walls for the first time, accompanied by her best friend and a very smug unicorn, Marabel embarks on a daring mission that brings her face-to-face with fairies, trolls, giants--and the possibility that all is not as it seems in Magikos.

I love fantasy, but I don't read anywhere near as much of it as I'd like. There's many reasons for it; many of the staple series in adult fantasy tends to be sexist, racist, or homophobic stories written by old white people (The Wheel of Time, Chronicles of Narnia, Dragonriders of Pern, etc., etc.), extremely derivative of Tolkein's work, or just so damn long that it feels like a massive undertaking to try to consume one (potentially never-to-be-completed) story (I'm looking at you, A Song of Ice and Fire), and with the respect still paid to those problematic fantasy faves of yesteryear, it can be a bit hard for me to trust recommendations from fellow fantasy fans. (If they like those books that I can't stand, why should I sink so much time in trying some other doorstopper they've recommended?)

But middle grade and kidlit fantasy? There are no such problems there. I mean, sure, there's a lot of watered-down Tolkein going on, but that's kind of inescapable at this point in our culture, so I'm not going to make too big a deal of it. Middle grade fantasy is short, charming, and very quick to read; it's not complex, of course, but honestly, if I'm looking for complex storytelling, I'd rather get it in the form of horror than fantasy anyway. And with the books being so short, even finding a dud doesn't much matter. While I'm tempted to stick with a doorstopper just because I don't particularly like giving up on books, my refuse-to-quit tendencies don't matter much when the book in question is under 250 pages. I can breeze through that, no breaks necessary, and so I don't even have to worry about whether or not I want to pick it up again. With MG and kidlit, if I put it down for any reason other than vital distractions, that's sign enough to move on.

So yeah, I love fantasy, and these days, MG and kidlit are where I tend to get my fix. (I'll dabble in YA occasionally, but I'm not the biggest fan of romantic plotlines, which can be hard to avoid therein.) So when I spotted Marabel and the Book of Fate, there wasn't much question of whether or not it was going on my TBR. Of course it was! It's got an adorable cover, a female protagonist, and 300 or so pages of what I imagine will be a fun fantasy story that does just enough tweaking of the conventions of the genre to stay interesting.

Based on the description, the plot reminds me a bit of Jackie French Koller's The Keepers series, too, and that's a good sign; I have some serious nostalgia for that cute little series that no one's ever heard of, and finding another book or series like it would be quite the treat!

What are you waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments below!

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