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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Yesterday's Magic* by Pamela F. Service- young readers book review
Yesterday's Magic
by Pamela F. Service
Ages 9-12 224 pages Random House May 2008 Hardcover    

Most of us know of Merlin, King Arthur, and Morgan LeFay. We remember the knights of the Roundtable, Camelot, and happy ever after. That was all set in medieval times. There were wizards, witches, royals, castles, and dragons. There was magic and wonder, wars and hostile kingdom takeovers. There were no known instances of the greenhouse effect or global warming. No one even imagined there would be a need to fear radiation poisoning or the threat of planetary extinction due to climate changes. That was then, pre-Devastation and before Yesterday's Magic changed everything.

In Yesterday's Magic, global warming is only one indication that the legend has been rewritten. Pamela F. Service’s sequel to Tomorrow’s Magic finds a young Merlin, known as Earl Bedwas to his friends Heather McKenna and Wellington “Welly” Jones, confronting a new “ice age” and pursued by the ancient sorceress Morgan LeFay. Set five hundred years after a nuclear war—the Devastation—nuclear winter has caused social collapse and destroyed almost all life and civilization on the planet.

Merlin (or Earl) seeks the entrance to Avalon while aiding King Arthur in reuniting the realm. This new “ice age” resulting from nuclear winter has wiped out entire nations, leaving humanity in detached areas with technology disappearing, ice sheets encroaching, sea levels lowering, and all plant and animal life in or near extinction.

Those not completely gone are either part of a primitive kingdom at war with an opposing but equally primitive kingdom, or they have mutated into beings whose races are unrecognizable to those remaining humans untouched by this terrible malady. This is a twenty-sixth century Britain few, if any, could have predicted.

Everything is not gloom and doom, however. Within this maelstrom of mayhem and destruction a wedding occurs, uniting King Arthur and his beloved Margaret, Queen of Scotland, in holy matrimony. Then, during the flurry of festivities, Heather—beloved of Earl/Merlin—mysteriously vanishes, the only clue a now-corroded and pitted ancient Thermos bottle and lunchbox.

Inscribed as it was with her own name, Heather, both she and the royal bride-to-be decided it must be for her. Margaret gifted it to her the day before; no one expected it to be the source of Heather’s abduction less than twenty-four hours later. Merlin determines Morgan’s hand was at work, though he’s not sure exactly how foul magic got into the seemingly harmless items given with strictly good intentions to the hapless Heather.

To rescue his intended, the rejuvenated wizard, along with friend Welly and a courageous, newly knighted Royal Guard aptly named Troll, enlist the aid of the white dragon, star of local myth. The problem: this dragon has to be awakened. The trio learns that their flying mount, once wakened and bound by honor to Merlin, is a female named Blanche who has to constantly be reminded she is not to eat her riders. Once she undertakes the heroic task of saving Heather (whose magical powers are just beginning to strengthen, the reason Morgan has abducted her) and maybe even the new world, Blanche warms to her duties and pledges herself to the safety of her charges.

The round-the-world pursuit of the evil sorceress Morgan LeFay to find and free Heather leads her fearless knights on a trek from Avalon to regions both above and below ground. They encounter foes in the form of mutant humans, a Hindu goddess of death and her demented minions, and creatures escaped from the Otherworld. Battles are bravely fought on charred, barren land or in mid-air, finally leading our heroes to a land where they find hope that a devastated Earth might yet survive the nuclear holocaust.

Yesterday's Magic is not very difficult to follow even if the reader has not read its predecessor, Tomorrow’s Magic. It’s mostly engaging, a tale that can be as captivating to an adult reader as to a nine or ten-year-old, with no concern for inappropriate language or content.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Edwyne Rouchelle/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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