The Magic World of Bracken Lea by Esma Race
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (94 pages)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
A series of ten short stories featuring the Fairy Folk of Bracken Lea Wood: a tale of Nature Spirits for humans of all ages.
Welcome to the magic world of GLODWYN the Gnome. His friends include other gnomes, flower fairies, a Twisted Tree, Astrid the Fairy Queen, and the birds and animals who also live in the wood.
Glodwyn the gnome is a bit of a rebel. He lives and works in the ancient woodland. He is unusual amongst the Fairy Folk in enjoying the company of humans. His good-natured interest in their world seen through the eyes of his unknowing “friend”, Walter the Stacker Truck Driver at the local factory, leads him to interfere in their affairs, with interesting results both for the Fairy Folk and humans. With his help, the Fairy Folk rescue a little boy from drowning, save the life of an injured cat and later that of a confused old lady who collapses in the Wood.
The Fairy Folk raise the alarm when a baby’s mother is taken ill, and later prevent disaster at the baby’s Christening, when a bad fairy threatens the child’s happiness. They help a Leprechaun find his way home, and get a lost engagement ring back to its owner. Both unwitting humans and Fairy Folk working together to save nearby woodland from development. From arranging a litter-pick in the woods to finding a new wand for the Fairy Queen, it is a busy life for the Fairy Folk.
Most people don’t notice magic even if it’s happening right under their noses. Are you one of them?
It’s difficult to discuss just one story because they’re all so closely connected to each other, but one of the most interesting ones in The Magic World of Bracken Lea is “The Unicorn and the Wand.” In it Glodwyn the Gnome and Celandine (a Flower Fairy) search for a unicorn so they can replace something that their queen has lost. The witty dialogue and clever ending made me want to read it again.
Speaking of Celandine, she was my favorite character in this collection. Her sweet, kind personality meshed nicely with Glodwyn’s tendency to act before he thinks. It was especially interesting to see the difference between how each of them reacts to trouble in their woodland home.
It took me a while to figure out the most appropriate age recommendation for this book, and it is a flexible one. I was a little surprised by how often the human characters find themselves in danger in these woods. While the fairies and other creatures are helpful, some of the scenarios might be a little scary for the preschoolers that would otherwise be the perfect age for this collection.
The page count includes illustrations as well as the text. The drawings themselves are simple, rustic, and beautiful. I often found myself paying just as much attention to them as I did to the tales themselves because they so accurately captured what was going on in the plot.
Read these tales in order until you’re familiar with its cast of characters. The first one introduces the reader to Bracken Lea, and the rest regularly revisit faeries and other creatures that originally popped up earlier on in this collection.
Discovering The Magic World of Bracken Lea was a treat. This is a fun choice for anyone looking for something magical to add to story time.