In January of 2014 I had the privilege of reading Natalie Lloyd's first novel, A Snicker of Magic, before its publication date. I hadn't even made it to page 3 before a magical spell had been cast upon me. As I both devoured the story of Felicity Juniper Pickle and took careful note to savor Lloyd's enchanting prose, I couldn't help but feel as if I was reading a children's classic in the making.
Over the past two years, Natalie has not only proved to be a talented author, but also a beautiful and generous spirit. I was lucky enough to meet her a few months after reading Snicker and she also graciously skyped with my class this year to give them a pep talk as they were participating in NaNoWriMo. In addition, she both surprised and humbled me when she included my name in a short story she wrote in the town and with the characters where A Snicker of Magic took place.
And so here we are in February of 2016 and Lloyd's second novel, The Key to Extraordinary, is set to hit stores this week. This is the story of Emma Pearl Casey, a young girl with a magical and renown family history. Just as with those that came before her, Emma's destiny comes to her in a dream. But when that dream indicates that she must carry out an impossible task, find the treasure that's been hidden in Blackbird Hollow's cemetery for centuries, she doesn't know how she will ever succeed. If she doesn't though, her family's business and the entire town might find itself on the other end of a wrecking ball. If Emma doesn't find the treasure, she might lose the very place she calls home, as progress might win out over history and tradition.
I fully admit that it took me a bit longer to get into The Key to Extraordinary than it did A Snicker of Magic, but much of that had to do with where I was at the time I read it. I was finishing my last semester of grad school and was highly distracted. Even with the distractions, I could see this was another special story full of quirky, lovable characters and enchanting yet folksy prose. And I especially loved the surprise at the end, but that's all I'm saying because... NO SPOILERS! :)
So if you loved Natalie's first novel, you're sure to love this one too. And if you haven't read either of Natalie's books yet, it's time to remedy that right now!
The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd
Publication Date: February 23, 2015
Genre: Magical Realism
Audience: Middle Grade
Disclosure: Advance copy received from author
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