The Strings of the Violin by Alisse Lee Goldenberg

The Strings of the Violin by Alisse Lee Goldenberg
Publisher: Prizm Books
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full Length (192 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Seventeen-year-old Carrie is lying in her backyard ignoring all the looming responsibilities in her life, when a fox makes a mad dash across the grass in front of her. After she manages to keep her dog from attacking the frightened animal, the fox turns to Carrie and seems to bow in gratitude before he disappears into the bushes. All Carrie knows in that moment is that something has unexpectedly changed in her life.

Carrie has been best friends with Lindsay Smith and Rebecca Campbell for years. During a summer when they should focus on choosing colleges, the girls suddenly find themselves swept away on the adventure of their lives. The fox reappears three days later and reveals to Carrie that he is Adom, emissary to the king of Hadariah. With his land of music and magic in peril, Adom has been sent to seek help from Carrie and her friends. In the blink of an eye, the three teenage girls go from living an average suburban life to being the champions of a world where they must contend with giants, witches, and magical beings. Will they ever make it home once more?

Carrie dreads her upcoming senior year in high school when she will have to “make decisions about her future, decide a path, and begin to grow up—something she dreaded with all her heart and soul. She wished she could just run away and have an adventure like the characters in the books she loved.” But beware what you wish for as you may just get it! Carrie and her friends Lindsay and Rebecca follow a talking fox named Adom through a gap in a bush in Carrie’s backyard and end up on a quest to save Adom’s world, the world of magic where all the stories the girl’s grandmothers told them when they were small actually happened.

Alisse Lee Goldenberg has written a charming magical story showing the importance of trusting in things which cannot be seen and believing in the magic surrounding each and every one of us. The girls run into many adventures as they work to fulfill their quest, and they meet various beings along the way who are not always trustworthy. Carrie, Lindsay, and Rebecca have been best friends since pre-school in spite of their very different personalities. I liked all three of the girls, especially Carrie. They did seem younger than seniors in high school, but possibly that is because they live rather sheltered and protected lives. They have to grow up fast, though, as the obstacles in their quest become harder and harder.

King Asmodeus has stolen the strings from a magical violin and in so doing, removed all the music from the land, dooming his world to a slow and painful death as the sun no longer shines. He is doing this because he is horrified by the human world where, as he says, “You people do not believe in anything you cannot see, touch, or spend. You are a self-serving, selfish lot. If we all disappear, dissolve into nothingness, no one from your world would notice or even care. No one would mourn us. No one would even remember we existed at all. Your world already exists in darkness.” Is Asmodeus right? He is certainly very powerful and deceitful, but will Carrie and her friends be able to defeat him?

This novel is written as an exposition on the world of fairy tales, explaining the actual events that underpin many of the tales the girls heard as children. However, Carrie and her friends are getting the real story, not watered down simplified tales. They make friends in this magical world and they certainly believe that our world needs the magical world. This belief fuels their determination to succeed, but is this determination enough? The plot moves quickly and Adom’s world is fully and richly described. There are mysteries and puzzles to solve and tough decisions to make, and Goldenberg brings her readers right into the story so they feel as if they too are on the quest.

Can three teenage suburban girls save this world? Will they succeed on their quest? The Strings of the Violin will touch its readers’ hearts with magic and wonder, something our world truly needs. If you enjoy fantasy, especially the world of fairy tales, be sure not to miss out on this wonderful adventure.

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