Word Spelunking

Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Lizzy Speare Book 1) - Ally Malinenko 4.5/5 Stars I'm no Shakespeare scholar or fanatic, but I do enjoy his work, and author Ally Malinenko has done something quite extraordinary with her book Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb...she's made Shakespeare fun! Fantastically fun, in fact! This adventure filled middle-grade surpassed my expectations and turned out to be an excellent read.Twelve year old Lizzy Speare is not a normal girl; she's the last living descendant of William Shakespeare. Which, she finds out on her twelfth birthday; the day she and her BFF, Sammy are kidnapped by a Muse for their own safety. Jonathan Muse reveals to Lizzy that as the last Shakespeare descendant she is the sole heir of a great fortune. But Dmitri Marlowe, the last descendant of Shakespeare's good friend and fellow writer Christopher Marlowe, is after Lizzy, the fortune, and maybe even Revenge! Jonathan introduces Lizzy and Sammy to a whole world of mythical beings and creatures, and Lizzy must confront her destiny to save everyone and everything she loves.Malinenko has crafted such an original and imaginative story with Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb. A fun, exciting middle-grade tale about the infamous Shakespeare and Marlowe relationship, and their imagined descendants is an ingenious idea. An idea that Malinenko pulls off excellently with flair and talent that Mr. Shakespeare would be proud of.This is a longer middle-grade book, but it has a great fast-pace full of suspense and thrills. I didn't find myself bored once while reading it and eagerly turned pages. Malinenko creates a world that is rich in history, mystery, and all things fantastical. A world that feels both modern and old-world, hip and enchanting, dark and whimsical. The work of Shakespeare is not always easy to understand or get into, but in Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb the world and work of Shakespeare is presented in a way that is both appropriate and highly entertaining for younger readers. Plus, Lizzy's journey and adventures are just so addicting and fun that younger readers won't even realize that they're also learning a great deal.The fantasy and mythical elements are awesome! Satyrs, Cyclopses, gorgons, fairies, selkies, Muses, magical quills, talking Ravens, doors that change, and more, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb as it all. Lizzy's journey is full of compelling mystery, fascinating history, and breathless peril. But, this book also has a lot of heart and is surprisingly touching.Lizzy is a great heroine: smart, brave, capable, and compassionate, but stubborn and sarcastic in an endearing way. Sammy is completely adorable and charming and I want him as a BFF too. Jonathan Muse and Dmitri Marlowe are wonderfully layered and complex characters. I love that I trusted and doubted both fellows at the same time and that they constantly surprised me.My only complaint is that the ending (only like the last two pages) felt a bit abrupt and jarring, but it did leave me excited for a sequel.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb is a terrific middle-grade book with a wildly entertaining and refreshing premise, compelling characters, and fantastic storytelling. Lovers of Shakespeare, the fantastical, or just fun adventure, will certainly enjoy this tale.

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