Book Reviews

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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite: 5-Star Review *****

Magdalena Gottschalk: The Slippery Slope is an action and adventure fantasy story for preteens written by M. Gail Grant. Magdalena was finally feeling healed after her extraordinary adventures that fall. Just sitting in the park watching as the Christmas season unfolded around her and wrapped her up in its magic was sheer delight. After the terrifying experiences she and her friends had had together, when they successfully battled and trapped the three demons, Magdalena had retreated within herself, not even reaching out to Gabriel, her best friend since they met in kindergarten. Gabriel wasn’t at all concerned about the fact that Magdalena was a witch, something that came out with her thirteenth birthday, and he was thrilled to see her finally outside again. The two best friends sat back and enjoyed the Christmas spirit that had descended upon the small town of Lily Brooke. They hatched a plan to get the gang together for a camping expedition. It had been way too long since the Mystical Alliance of Lily Brooke had been assembled. That night, the campfire was warm and cozy, and after a fun evening, the six companions were asleep, all snug in their sleeping bags. Then, Magdalena was roused from her slumber by strange noises coming from the woods. Could it be werewolves? Were they here? Now?

M. Gail Grant’s action and adventure fantasy story for preteens, Magdalena Gottschalk: The Slippery Slope, is an exciting and fast-paced tale which follows the six young teens as they explore the Enchanted Forest and seek a way out of Queen Lindtzl’s booby-trapped castle. I was especially impressed with the strategies Magdalena and her friends use during their adventure and the way the six of them work as a team. Grant’s world of Lily Brooke and the Enchanted Forest is inspired, especially when seen in contrast, as the bucolic little town is such a difference from the supernatural world the forest represents. This story also works quite well as a coming of age tale as each of the characters adapts to the seriousness of their situation and masters fear and insecurity to help the other MALB teammates. Grant’s plot is sound and great fun to follow, and her characters are well-defined. Magdalena Gottschalk: The Slippery Slope is most highly recommended.

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Reader's Favorite:  5-Star Review, *****

A vortex to another world, an enchanted forest and castle, and a three-headed beast- the magical adventure returns in Magdalena Gottschalk: The Slippery Slope (Vol 2) by M. Gail Grant. Months after discovering her secret, 13-year-old Magdalena is still recovering from the chaos that happened last autumn. Luckily, the demons had been beaten and locked up inside enchanted lanterns, hopefully for eternity. She’s determined to enjoy her favorite festive season as Christmas approaches the quaint town of Lily Brooke. The MALB (Mystical Alliance of Lily Brooke) reunited and camped under their favorite old oak tree. The evening seemed perfect until Magdalena awoke to the sounds of werewolves.

The eye-catching cover complements the story and Grant’s prose is as charming as ever. The narrative is vivid, the dialogue is clean, and the moderate pace suits the plot well. That said, the beginning chapters may seem slow for readers who haven’t read the first book of the series, The Crooked Trail. There are enough details from its predecessor to give an idea how the story picks up from where it left off. On the other hand, reading the first book will give readers a better grasp of the dark subtlety of the premise. The characters’ development is deftly done and this definitely helps with the depth and the continuation of the story line. The MALB members show the strength of their friendship once again, as well as bravery and quick thinking. On the whole, The Slippery Slope is an entertaining and well-targeted fantasy for its intended young readers.


Reviewed by Deanna R Sweeney for Reader's Favorite:  4-Star Review, ****

Magdalena Gottschalk: The Slippery Slope by M. Gail Grant is a tale about a young girl named Magdalena who is struggling to come to terms with her newfound existence as a witch. Magdalena and her friends, including her best friend Gabriel, have had many adventures together, but their latest has left them all reeling. A fight with demons to save their community has turned their view of the world upside down and they are desperately trying to regain some of their carefree childhood and put the incident in the past. Unfortunately for them, as they will quickly come to realize, once you open the door to the supernatural world, it isn’t so easy to go back to a life oblivious of its existence. Trouble finds this group of friends again and they set out on a desperate attempt to save one of their own.

Magdalena Gottschalk: The Slippery Slope by M. Gail Grant started off slowly and I found it repetitive at times, but I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. By chapter four the reader is thrown into an action-packed adventure with this group of friends. It was a good story and I think that it could be very well received in the pre-teen age group. If this was available in my 12 year-old son’s school library, I’m sure it would be one that he would want to read. I believe that if elementary school librarians gave this series a chance that it would be well received by young readers. I’ll be looking to purchase these books for my son. Well done!

***** Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite:

Magdalena Gottschalk: The Crooked Trail by M. Gail Grant follows Magdalena upon her thirteenth birthday when she discovers secrets in her quaint town of Lily Brooke. After an exploration through the woods with her friends, Gabriel and Hubert, leads them to a hidden cave, they find lanterns, sacrificial drawings on the walls, and a bizarre and empty tree house. To find answers behind the cave, they turn to their other friends for help. A strange book called Demonic Enchantments, and an even stranger conversation between the preacher and Magdalena's mom, reveal possibly sinister secrets the adults of the town may be keeping. When they realize they may have freed something demonic from the cave, the friends band together to find a way to fix their mistake before it's too late.

M. Gail Grant has a charming style with sweet descriptions, often using old-fashioned phrases and language that perfectly fits the personalities of the children and the quaintness of the town. This is a town that seems idealistic on the surface with a nosy neighbor, hardworking farmers, and a baker that found his calling at a young age. But Grant crafts a darker and sinister underbelly to the town in a secret that the townspeople have banded together to keep hidden. This is the mystery the children strive to solve in an adventure that often reminds me of the classic mysteries of Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, except with demons and magic. Magdalena Gottschalk is a tale of adventure and friendship, courage and heroism, a coming of age story perfect for young adults. The delightful world and wonder of adventure will appeal to all ages.

***** Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite:

Magdalena Gottschalk: The Crooked Trail by M. Gail Grant is a riveting blend of fantasy and adventure for young adult readers. Thirteen-year-old Magdalena lives in the cozy little town of Lily Brooke and she experiences boredom, just like some of her teenage friends, hardly finding anything exciting to do. One Saturday morning, Magdalena and her teenage friends, Gabriel and Hubert, decide to have a little adventure. But things begin to change so quickly once they get on the road and they start noticing unusual things like the fork in the middle of an oft-traveled path, a crooked trail, then the cave with the hidden lanterns, the drawings on its walls, and the enchanted tree house that looks so old. But most troubling are the voices that seem to beckon them on, voices that only Magdalena can hear. The fun has just begun as the trio sets out on an adventure to discover the secret behind the voices and why only Magdalena can hear them. The rest is a thrilling adventure involving magic, secret societies, and supernatural happenings that will change the lives of the children forever and the way they see Lily Brooke. There is an evident evil lurking in the city, but can it be defeated? Do the kids have what it takes to fight it?

M. Gail Grant’s characters are very interesting and readers will enjoy Magdalena's feisty nature, she is an intelligent and curious girl. The characters are real and their reactions to situations taking place in their community will arouse the interest of readers. I enjoyed the way the themes are developed, especially friendship, magic, and teamwork. The setting is vividly portrayed and readers get a clear picture of Lily Brooke. The writing is excellent, featuring beautiful descriptions and dialogues that are plot-driven and that enhance character development. Magdalena Gottschalk: The Crooked Trail is a delightful read for young readers and adults who still reflect the beauty of childhood in their hearts.

***** Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite:

Magdalena Gottschalk: The Crooked Trail by M. Gail Grant is the story of Magdalena Gottschalk. It is Magdalena’s 13th birthday and everybody is celebrating. The next day Magdalena and her friends, Hubert and Gabriel, go for a walk through the woods behind the barn at Hubert’s house and that’s when things change. A strange fork leads them down an odd path, taking them to an enchanted treehouse and a strange cave. Voices and noises that only Magdalena can hear lead them on and their adventure raises questions - it’s time to bring in the Mystical Alliance of Lily Brooke to determine if there is something unwanted living in Lily Brooke. The town is depending on them and many lives are going to be changed as they face obstacles that they should never have to face. Can the town survive? And what of Magdalena and her friends? Can their friendship survive this toughest of all tests?

Magdalena Gottschalk: The Crooked Trail by M. Gail Grant is a mystical fantasy story and a very well written one at that. I was hooked from page one and couldn’t put the book down. The characters are incredibly well developed and the story is wound around them intricately. It is an easy story to follow, full of excitement and plenty of twists and turns to keep you hooked and on edge. The action starts on page one and takes you on a rollercoaster journey of mystery, wizardry, demons and black magic, all leading you to an exciting conclusion that you won’t be able to wait to get to. I enjoyed the story and I believe it is well aimed at its target audience.

***** Reviewed by Self Publishing Review

Review: "An enchanting work of young adult fiction, given Grant’s attention to detail for each character, and the well-paced mystery woven through the entire novel. The story is propelled forward by a wonderfully realized world, and has readers cheering for the underdog. Grant has created a compelling band of characters who face some truly spooky situations, while the story never loses its core optimism."  Self-Publishing Review

***** Reviewed by Bookish Madness Blog

Review: I loved this book! Lily Brooke is a cozy, quaint town inhabited by thirteen-year-old Magdalena and her friends. I really liked Magdalena, and her friends too. They all brought different personality traits to the table and could work together when needed. The story is original and surprising, and transports the reader to this amazing fantasy world.

***** Reviewed by I Heart Reading Blog

Magdalena Gottschalk: The Crooked Trail is an intriguing fantasy story that will appeal to both young adults and middle graders. For middle graders, the book is a bit long, but the character’s ages (they main characters are thirteen years old) are ideal for this age group.

Magdalena is a thirteen-year-old girl who feels like something is missing. Life is just too ordinary. Even though she has two best friends who mean the world to her, and they often go exploring together, she still feels bored sometimes. Then, one morning Magdalena and her friends Hubert and Gabriel, go explore the woods behind Hubert’s family barn. They discover things they never thought possible, like strange sacrificial drawings in a cave, a crooked trail, and chanting voices only Magdalena can hear.

Their friendship is pushed to the limits, and they each have to face some of their fears if they want to save their hometown, Lily Brooke. Witches, wizards and black magic… Magdalena will certainly never call life boring again.

The book had a slow start but after a few chapters, the pacing really picked up. The story is very imaginative, and as a reader, you can easily feel a connection toward the main characters. I didn’t expect a lot of the twists that happened, and I found the book very entertaining.