Lynn: Last week, I wrote about my struggle to reconcile my remaining to-read pile of 2015 books with the rapidly growing stack of new 2016 titles. I know it sounds hopeless, but I’m forging ahead by alternating new and old—this time, the latter, with a charming and unusual fantasy from last year that, regrettably, I didn’t get to until last week: Nigel Quinlan’s The Maloneys’ Magical Weatherbox (2o15).
Siblings Neil and Liz live with their family in a remote area of Ireland. Their father is one of the four most important people in the world: he is a Weatherman, responsible for guarding the magical phone booth by their home. Four times a year, the phone rings, signalling Mr. Maloney to send off one season and usher in another, such as summer and fall. But this year, the phone doesn’t ring. Instead of the new season, a collection of odd characters arrives: the Tourist; a terrifying, shape-changing bog monster; two strange hags; and evil neighbors. Can the Maloneys save the seasons and the world?
Don’t pay too much attention to the magical systems here—just sit back and enjoy this wacky fantasy. There are distinct touches of Terry Pratchett, particularly in the band of Shieldsmen who are supposed to protect the Weatherman. Sibling rivalry and issues surrounding gender roles add some heft to the story. A road trip across Ireland is a true delight, and the terrific ending adds to the fun. If you missed this one in 2015 like I did, make sure you add it to your list.