Gold Dust – Catherine Weaver

*Non-disclaimer!  I bought this book with some of my birthday money back in Feb, so can honestly say that my review is unaffected by the free copy I received in exchange for an honest review.*

This novel is technically a children’s book, but like many since C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling, makes a great light read for adults too.

Blurb:  Alex Lee is a Freshman at Palo Alto High in the Silicon Valley.  With no friends and the most ordinary name ever, not to mention a mother who has somehow turned into a mindless zombie, Alex doesn’t know how things could get worse. But when she comes face to face with a leprechaun on her way home from school, she finds out.  Armed only with a clarinet and advice from her Buddha-quoting grandmother, Alex is forced into an adventure that will lead her from a high-tech security breach, through an army of griffins to a point where she could save her mom- if she isn’t torn apart by overwhelming magical forces first.

Marked by humor and insight, this fresh take on the classic Spanish romance of the magical Island of California will keep readers turning pages as they try to find the answer to the question, “What will Alex do next?”

This book has all the features you would expect for a children’s action-fantasy book. The burden of saving the world, or in this case her mother, falls solely on the shoulders of ‘ordinary girl’ Alex Lee, but she quickly amasses an array of outcast-type sidekicks to help her through.

Where Gold Dust differs is that the characters are more than the stereotypes they first appear (eg drunk Leprechaun).  In fact there were various moments in the plot where I suspected each of the side character ‘goodies’ of ulterior, nefarious motives!  This was interesting to me, and on thinking about it I realised that it was because whatever noble motivations the characters were following, they were also clearly motivated by their own individual self-interest.  I felt this gave them more depth and realism than the standard self-sacrificing side character.

Also instead of facing death and destruction, Alex was up against the death of imagination.  I liked this juxtaposition of the creative thinker versus the corporate robot, and especially liked that instead of discovering that she was the Chosen One with magical powers, Alex discovered that she, and anyone, could manipulate the world ‘magically’ with the power of her thoughts…but she’d have to learn it the hard way: boring lectures, practice, and trial and error!

Which was one of the minor quibbles I had with this story: I found the technical descriptions of how the magic worked as riveting as Alex did!  That and I occasionally lost track of the plan our heroes were working to.

Still the plot and characters were exciting enough to keep me turning the pages and I have added the sequel, Phoenix Down to my To Read pile!  Review to follow when I do…

“All the world and everything in it, at the most basic particle level, is made by thoughts. Almost everything in the world is what it is, and won’t change, because everyone believes it is that way.  But when you get to the particle level, things are different, depending on who is looking at them and doing the believing.”  – Gabriel, Gold Dust, by Catherine Weaver

You can find out more about this book and others from the author here:

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