Book Review: The Quill Pen

Title/Author:  The Quill Pen by Michelle Isenhoff

Genre:  Middle Grade, Historical Fantasy, Coming of Age

Published:  October 18th, 2011 Independently

E-book,  160 pages

How I Got This Book:  From the author, Michelle Isenhoff, via email review request

Why I Picked It Up?:  I agreed to review this novel because the premise just sounded so interesting and fun and adventurous, and I just wanted to go on a special adventure!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “If you owned a pen that wrote the future, would you use it? What if the consequences spread like ripples in a pond? What if they raged out of control? What if the pen demanded tribute…in blood?

Thirteen-year-old Micah has found such a pen. One that’s ensnared him in a curse dating back generations. One that’s devastated two families and now threatens his whole New England village. But how can Micah destroy the pen when it offers him his only chance at the future he dreams of?”

My Review of this Work:

First of all, I must say I love this new cover a lot better.  The original cover was just a beach and a sunset, but I think that this beautiful cover captures the essence that is this adventure story.

The Quill Pen takes place in a remote town in the early 1800s during a time of American expansion and on the brink of the industrial revolution.  Micah is a 13 year old boy who comes from a well-to-do family:  his father runs the local grocery store and is driven by ledgers and bank accounts, and his mother is a woman who is involved in woman’s groups and library luncheons.  As all good sons do, he works at his father’s shop, helping with deliveries and inventory, but Micah would much rather spend his time on the coastline, exploring the wilderness, or hanging out with his best friend Gabby (who is a part of the only black family in town).

When Micah’s father signs him up for the grueling job of cleaning out crazy Widow Parson’s attic, Micah is less than thrilled.  But it is in this attic that he uncovers a truly magical gift–a pen that, when used, let’s everything it writes come true.  But as with any magical power or gift comes a huge responsibility, and it is up to Micah to decide what he needs to do with this magical pen to keep everyone safe and happy, including himself.

This little novel is one full of intrigue and excitement that I really wasn’t expecting.  As it is a middle grade historical fantasy, I wasn’t really expecting as much character development and interweaving storylines as this novel offers!  Isenhoff does a remarkable job of connecting key elements of her characters together in a way that keeps the mystery intact.  For such a short novel, there is a lot of depth and intricacy to the storyline that allows for the reader to enjoy and appreciate the story being told.

There are a couple of noteworthy characters to mention.  Micah, the star of the story, is of course one of them.  As a 13 year old boy from a restrictive family, he is tyring to figure out how to balance his life–between pleasing his family and being himself–and that balance in his world is so hard for him to find.  But a long the way he grows in a respectable and believable way, which I really appreciated.  Gabby and her family are the outsiders of this town and are continually fighting for their dignity.  Gabby’s father has a very interesting past, full of sailing stories and a shed full of interesting artifacts, making him one of the most interesting characters in this novel.  But by far my favorite character is Crazy Widow Parson.  She is a loner who knows exactly who she is, and she isn’t afraid of what others say or do.  But at the same time, she is not without her own pains–but she is a strong old woman, and the more you get to know her, the more you really like her!

This short novel is full of surprises and pleasantries.  I found myself completely enjoying this read through, and this is the first of my author request novels that I can honestly say I liked!  This a great read for children ages 10-12, but it can also be a fantastic family read-a-loud together, as the storyline is compelling enough to keep everyone’s attention.  I love being pleasantly surprised, and this little gem is definitely a novel worth sharing about.

Thank you to Michelle Isenhoff for asking me to review this novel.  I would have probably never picked it up otherwise, and I am glad I did.  =)
My Bookshelf Rating:

A Middle Shelf Book!

Every kid wishes they could find something magical, and Micah stumbles across a truly magical tool.  With it, he uncovers the truth about legends, about his townspeople, and about himself.  An extremely likable read for the younger ages filled with mystery and memorable characters.

Love and The Seven Seas,
Jennifer

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