Flashback Fridays: Tell Me a Tale of Krakens and Kings . . .

You’re a kid living in New York City and you notice strange things are going missing: doorknobs, tuna sandwiches and bronze statues.  Something’s wrong . . . something bad.  But you don’t know quite what and you’re not sure it’ll work, but you throw a coin in the river wishing for help.  The help you get isn’t what you expected.

Do you remember:

The Bronze King by Suzy McKee Charnas (Houghton Mifflin, 1985)

I’ve loved urban fantasy ever since I encountered So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane.  I have a real interest in stories that take place in New York City particularly.  So this trilogy was right on the mark for me.

Valentine Marsh lives in New York City on the Upper West side with her divorced mom.  She still struggles with the pain of her parents’ divorce and her mom’s dating habits.  But day to day issues are eclipsed when Tina notices something much more disturbing going on . . . objects go missing, including the huge bronze statue of king Jagiello. Tina doesn’t know what it all means, but when her act of throwing a coin in the river summons a strange fiddler with magical powers, she knows it’s out of the ordinary.  And this fiddler needs her help.  It seems there’s a kraken trying to break through to their dimension, and they’ll need to find a way to stop it.  From the subway tunnels beneath the city to a final showdown in Central Park, this is pure urban fantasy for middle grade readers.

Urban fantasy has been making a comeback in recent years–more  of it seems focused on vampires and zombies than actual everyday magic, but it’s nice to see the city scapes used as settings.  The Bronze King doesn’t quite have the ooomph that Diane Duane’s wizard stories have had, but her unique vision of urban magic is still worth a look or two.

The first book was followed up by two more in the Sorcery Hall Trilogy; The Silver Glove (1988)

And The Golden Thread (1989)

The author lived and worked in New York City, which gives the books an authentic feel. (I admit I get snarky when someone writes about a place I know well and clearly hasn’t spent much time in that place. It’s like CSI:NY having a Chinatown with palm trees.)  On the downside, these books have not aged all that well.  The 1980s setting  where the villains are punks with jackets labelled “Prince of Darkness” and they have chains and wrist straps.  One of our adult protagonists smokes–which is surprisingly startling nowadays (makes you realize how effective the campaign has been to ‘snuff’ out cigarettes in a lot of media).  Still , it’s an enjoyable trilogy that may interest readers who look for urban fantasy.

Do you remember this series?  Which book of the three was your favorite?

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About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on July 26, 2013, in Flashback Fridays, General Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. wow, what a flashback! The Bronze King was one of my favorite books when I was a kid! As soon as I saw the cover art and the title, all these memories came flooding back. I grew up in the midwest, but my family is from NY, and everytime we visited the city I secretly hoped I’d come across that statue.

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