Just as human children gather to listen to grownups tell them stories of princes, dragons, witches, and fairies, so too, in The World of Magic, do tiny fairies listen to the Godmother regale them with stories of ordinary human endeavors. In Diane Nighswonger’s tale for middle-grade readers, The Lucien Saga, fairies gather around to hear the Godmother’s stories as she teaches them about the human world—The Outer World of Men—where there’s no magic.
Godmother’s stories of ordinary men and women enrapture her wards—particularly Elli, the littlest fairy, who learns that with human characteristics such as cooperation, hard work, and determination, the mundane can become magical.
Each chapter is a separate tale, narrated by Godmother, about the history of Prince Lucien’s family, through King Lucien IV, and how an ordinary girl, Ellienne, uses her wit, determination, and physical prowess to save his family, securing its fate for generations to come. In each story, Nighswonger uses Lucien’s family saga to impart a lesson—for example, the importance of cooperation and teamwork.
The Lucien Saga speaks to our human need for connection through story, of finding the common ground in the most disparate of people. Nighswonger’s tales are highly readable and engaging. Her prose lurks on the edge of whimsical without becoming overly sentimental: “‘Godmother, could I give some of my Magic to the Outer World of Men?’ asked Elli. Godmother smiled. ‘That is what you do every time you decorate a tulip or add scent to the purple clover. Your Magic is there for everyone in the Outer World of Men.’”
Occasionally, the timeline can be confusing. For example, in the first tale, Nighswonger tells of an escape “two days ago” that becomes “over five days ago” without explanation. Such missteps prove a moderate distraction.
Nonetheless, The Lucien Saga will hold readers’ attention throughout, and Elli, with her fascination with a different culture and incessant questions, is an endearing character who will capture readers’ hearts.