Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Title: The Enchanted Skean
Author: Vonnie Winslow Crist
Publisher: Mockingbird Lane Press
Publication Date: March 16, 2013
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Source: Received from author for review
Ellen’s smiley rating: 5/5


Fourteen-year-old Beck Conleth is living a quiet life in the seaside town of Queen's Weather when his grandmother sends him on a journey to Ulfwood to retrieve his father's bones and a family skean (dagger). After reaching Ulfwood, Beck discovers the skean is magical, and that it answers only to him. Soon the enchanted skean and its owner attract the attention of dark mages, goblins, and worse. Helped on his journey home by Wisewomen, warriors, shape-changers, and the other good folk of Lifthrasir, Beck faces death, danger, and the theft of his skean. Accompanied by his best friend, Beck stows away on a ship, takes back his skean, befriends a dragon, and escapes with a troop of thieves. After reaching a dock in West Arnora, the company heads for the fortress of Ravens Haunt. As Beck and his companions face a hideous Skullsoul and an army of ogrehunches, he realizes there is a developing confrontation between good and evil, and he and his enchanted skean have a role to play.


The Enchanted Skean is a thrilling story of continuous adventure in a world filled with strange people, dangerous creatures and hidden magic. When Beck, the main character, leaves his home to retrieve his father's bones for burial, he has no idea of the perils that await him. On the return journey to Queen's Weather, Beck and his travelling companion, Klav, is joined by three Janepar warriors with their war bulls and watch cats. Together the group befriends shape shifters, fights Grindee and faces off against a dark mage before they reach home. This however is only the beginning of Beck's adventures and soon his life is about to change forever.

This is one of those stories which is all about the journey and not so much about the destination. The author takes the time to do some careful and extremely colorful world building without ever over explaining anything. The different races and creatures in this world are completely believable and realistic – so much so that I could imagine myself there with the characters.

The characters are unique and well crafted and truly grew on me throughout the story. What really touched me about The Enchanted Skean was the closeness the characters have with their animals. The Janepar warriors have their war bulls and watch cats, the Rufins have their goats and then, of course, there is Beck's sweet little dragonet, Fafnir.

The book is comfortably paced with action and adventure liberally spread throughout the story. There are incidents that will make you laugh out loud and times that you will wipe away a tear. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and happily recommend it to all readers of fantasy and adventure. Five stars and a thumbs-up to an excellent book and a promising author.



Born in the Year of the Dragon, Vonnie Winslow Crist has had a life-long interest in reading, writing, art, myth, fairytales, folklore, and legends. Having been a night person since infancy, she is also quite fond of stars, moonlight, forests, owls, and other creatures of the darkness.

After attending Perry Hall Elementary, Parkville Junior High, and Perry Hall High, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Towson University. She married, then raised three children, did freelance illustrating and writing, and taught poetry for the Maryland State Arts Council’s Artists in Education Program. Thirty years after graduating from Towson, she returned to her alma mater and earned a Masters in Professional Writing.

A firm believer that the world around us is filled with miracles, mystery, and magic, Vonnie still sees fairies amidst the trees, mermaids on jetties, and ghosts and goblins of all sorts in the shadows. Her garden overflows with herbs and statues of animals. Toadstool rings sprout regularly on her lawn. And she's found so many four-leafed clovers that she keeps them in a jar.

Watch the book trailer HERE.


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