Trial by Fire, Chapter 9: Exposition Fairies

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 7.)

Remember when I said it was a smart idea to do Kara’s scenario first? I lied. Kara gets infodumped by Be*Tween, because she needs to know a shitload of stuff about Avalon and fairies and a future boss battle and other fun stuff. And a lot of it was changed — or rearranged — between editions, so prepare to be bombarded with quotes.

So Kara’s all like “OMGWTFBBQ it’s Be*Tween!” but she still has no idea where the hell she is, why Be*Tween is here, or what the hell she’s supposed to do. Don’t worry, Be*Tween’s ready to explain it all.

Where the hell is Kara?
Be*Tween’s little fairy rave is in a “twilight realm between worlds”. But what exactly is a twilight realm? In the original edition, a twilight realm is an astral plane. In the new edition, it’s a “hidden pocket of magic” created by the disintegration of the Magic Web.

Why did Kara piss off everyone in the party?
Because Kara doesn’t know shit about fairy etiquette. Fairies can’t reveal their real names, or else they lose their powers. As Be*Tween succinctly explains to Kara: “If you trick [a fairy] into telling you [its name], you capture its magic.” Which begs the question: if the Fairimentals and Be*Tween have names, which are already known to the party, why haven’t they lost their powers? Or are the names they gave to the party fake?

What are Be*Tween? And why are they big?
Be*Tween calls themselves muses, because they “inspire creativity and imagination”, both of which are sources of strong magic. As for why they’re human-sized, that’s only answered in the revision: “Fairies and fairy creatures come in many sizes”.

What the hell happened to the Fairimentals? (original edition only)
A quick explanation of fairies and Fairimentals, straight from the original edition:

“Fairies spread magic through nature,” Sylina explained. “It is elemental, flowing through earth, sky, water, and fire.”

“You mean like fairimentals?” Kara asked.

“Fairimentals are guardians of special places of beauty and magic like Aldenmor,” Sylina said. “They are the highest power of fairies, existing as pure, flowing energy.”

“They are only visible when cloaked in shapes of nature,” Andi added.

“Where are they?” Kara asked.

“They have closed themselves off, like a seed, waiting for the rain,” Sylina explained.

Okay, so they’re just in hiding … which isn’t a good thing, after reading through Emily’s scenario.

So why are Be*Tween in this twilight realm?
Depends on which edition you’re reading. In both editions, Be*Tween is protecting the fairy creatures of Aldenmor. The new edition explains that they’ve been touring all over the Magic Web, summoning fairies and using their spellsinging to restore the Magic Web until a more permanent solution is reached. Originally, Be*Tween was on tour on Earth when a certain someone interrupted them:

“We were called back by a human wizard to protect the fairies of Aldenmor,” Crimson said. “You may know of him, Henry Gardener.”

Wait … Mr. Gardener’s a wizard? Dude, he’s like the best person to train the party so they don’t suck at magic! Why the hell is he absent? And if you’ve read the entire series (original or new edition), how the hell did Mr. Gardener contact Be*Tween?

About that fairy princess thing….
And here, things get complicated. Apparently magic existed on Earth, and shows up in humans every few generations. Here’s the full explanation from the revision:

“Many years ago, humans and magical creatures worked together,” Sylina told Kara. “When the portals between worlds closed, some of the magic remained on Earth. Many animals of Earth descended from magical ancestors.”

“Some retain highly developed senses,” Crimson added.

“Yeah,” Kara mused. “There was this dog that saved his whole family from a fire.”

“The same is true for humans as well,” Sylina said. “Some humans still carry its seeds. Every few generations the magic becomes strong in them.”

And then the big reveal: Kara is a descendant of Lucinda, the greatest of all fairy queens. Kara, of course, is all like, “Yeah, right.”

So what exactly is in Avalon? (new edition only)
Yeah, we’d all like to know this. Unfortunately, nobody does.

How do you beat a Skrull Skultum?
In the original edition, this is where Kara finally learns that the shapeshifting creature from the last book is called a Skultum. He’s an excellent spellsinger, but he’s subject to the same weakness as all fairies: get him to say his name, and he’ll lose his powers. This will be especially hard for Kara, because she has low resistance to fairy magic (thanks, magic lineage!). Only problem is that the party doesn’t know his name. Kara asks Be*Tween what the Skultum’s name is in the original edition, but….

“Once we did, but when the Dark Sorceress released the creature from the otherworlds, it took on a new name,” Crimson told her.

Yeah, you’re a great help there, Be*Tween.

Other random stuff I couldn’t fit in above:
* The party is famous in the Fairy Realms in the new edition. How word spread that far, and why haven’t any powerful fairies tried to aid the party on their quest yet, is never addressed.
* Only fairies can enter fairy raves.
* Be*Tween mentions that the Dark Sorceress was transformed somehow. Did she undergo the same mutation as the Spider Witch, but not turn into a monstrous cat-lizard-person?

Goddamn, that was a lot of stuff. Aftewards, Kara and Lyra leave, using the unicorn horn to open a portal to Aldenmor. The new edition gives them some friendly banter:

“Hey,” Kara said, suddenly realizing something. “If only fairies are allowed, how come you’re here?”

The cat stared back. “Gah.”

“I know how you feel,” she sympathized.

Status Update!
Kara gains: lowered resistance to fairy magic! (Damn, that sucks.)

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Kara tells B*Tween that she loves their music, not their latest CD.
  • B*Tween are no longer muses.

Next time: And finally, the party is reunited!


Trial by Fire, Chapter 6: Party Foul!

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the last third of Chapter 4.)

Oh, I see you’re a smart cookie and chose Kara’s scenario. That means you get to do nothing but party!

No, seriously, that’s all that happens in this chapter. Kara and Lyra land in a fairy rave somewhere that’s not Aldenmor. There’s a bunch of tiny fairy creatures dancing and flying around a psychedelically-glowing garden. And there’s a bad-ass trio of giant (read: human-sized) fairy chicks performing.

Unfortunately, Kara pisses off some fairy creature by asking for its name, which leads to a mob of fairies opening and spilling Kara’s Backpack of Holding. The Fairy Map appears, which causes the party to stop. The band then proclaims that they’ve been waiting for Kara’s arrival — because she’s some sort of princess!

And, of course, the band is none other than Be*Tween.

I got one little problem with this chapter: Kara is not at a rave! Where’s the techno music? Where’s the illicit substance use? (I know, this is a kids’ book, but there’s gotta be fairy creatures tripping on pixie dust or something.) Where’s the fairies playing with magic glowsticks? Instead, all we get are fairy creatures talking in very fake Irish accents and a not-very-electronic-sounding Be*Tween song. This thing reeks of a Renaissance fair crossed with a hippie drum circle.

Challenge to my readers: do a remix of any Be*Tween song that sounds appropriate for dance-club use!

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • The hobgoblins don’t say anything when they raid socks out of Kara’s backpack.
  • Sylina apparently isn’t “silky” anymore.

Next time: It’s back to Adriane’s scenario! Watch her get infodumped.

Trial by Fire, Chapter 2: Yay, Exposition!

Today is not a good day for Kara, who decided to rejoin the party anyway a week after the last book.

Kara’s still moping about activating the Fairy Map and possibly letting the Sorceress have free reign over the magic of Avalon. (In the original edition, she also has no idea what exactly the Fairy Map did.) Meanwhile, Adriane’s talking about getting enough feed bins and salt licks set up in the preserve for the winter, Emily’s sharing a newspaper article about Mrs. Windor’s trip to Washington, and Ozzie’s trying to track the e-mail from Be*Tween and Mr. Gardener. The party’s generally worried about not hearing from the Fairimentals in a while.

For those of you wondering how exactly Be*Tween and Mr. Gardener sent e-mails to the party, the original edition explains why:

“I’ve been thinking about the E-mails,” Adriane finally said. “I mean, after all this time, why would Gardener and Be*Tween suddenly contact us, and through the computer no less?”

“Maybe they couldn’t before,” Rasha offered.

“Yes, maybe they were trapped somewhere,” Ronif added.

“That’s what I was thinking,” Adriane said. “Suppose when Kara opened the portals, she freed them. Or at least allowed them to contact us briefly.”

So I guess that kinda explains how Gardener, who (spoiler!) isn’t in any state to send anything to the party, contacts them.

Anyway, the party tries to cheer Kara up by telling her that maybe it was a good idea that she opened all the portals, because that’s the only way they can find Avalon. Kara’s still not convinced, because she thinks the Sorceress is already in Avalon. Emily tries to lighten the mood by teaching Ozzie and the major refugees how to make s’mores. After a number of epic failures — including Ozzie’s tail catching fire — Kara shows the animals the proper way to toast marshmallows.

And then the power goes out, and a gigantic fiery figure emerges from the fireplace.

The refugees are in awe, for an uber-rare Firemental materialized before them! Apparently they only show up when shit hits the fan. Originally, the firemental just points to the Fairy Map and tells Kara to activate it. In the revision … it’s kinda pissed:

“You opened the portalsss!” the Firemental hissed at [Kara].

Kara winced. It was not the fire that burned her, but the heat of her own shame.

“I … I’m sorry … I don’t know what I did. I messed up really bad. And now the Dark Sorceress is all over Avalon…”

“The witch waitsssss in her lair.”

Kara’s eyes widened. “The sorceress is not in Avalon?”

“She needssss map.”

Kara looked at the pattern of portals burning along the fairy map. “We’ll never let her get it again!”

“There isss another…”

After the Firemental dissipates, the party realizes that Moonshadow has the other Fairy Map! No wonder the Sorceress had all the wolves captured in the last chapter: she needs both maps to open the path to Avalon! Of course, the party doesn’t know that yet. But they resolve to reach Moonshadow and keep his Fairy Map out of the Sorceress’ hands!

So the party decides to head out to Aldenmor today, after giving plausible excuses to their parents. Kara, being the most practical of the bunch, announces that she’s going on a shopping spree. Hey, the party needs supplies if they’re going to hang out in a magical nuclear wasteland. They’re gonna need potions, lotions, hi-potions, ethers, and — since this is a magical nuclear wasteland — Rad-Away and Rad-X! Oh, and lots of food, too.

Next time: the party gets lost on the way to Aldenmor and asks for directions.

Spellsinger, Chapter 18: Party Dynamics in Flux

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 14.)

This chapter has completely different tones, depending on which edition you’re reading. The original edition is optimistic as hell, while the revision places the party’s integrity in doubt.

Both editions start out the same way: Kara has finally confessed to stealing the unicorn horn, and Adriane is pissed that Kara almost fulfilled not!Johnny’s evil plan. Kara is dejected because doing good is so much harder than being evil she has no control over her power and can’t make “good magic” like the rest of the party.

Here’s where things diverge. In the original edition, the party gives Kara a gift so she wouldn’t forget about the benefit concert:

“Okay, okay,” Adriane said. She reached into her backpack and lifted out a small box. “Face it, Barbie. You’re a star, whether you like it or not.” Kara stared at the dark-haired girl, then looked at the gift, a small smile appearing on her lips. “What’s that?”

“We all wanted to get you something,” Emily said. “So you would remember the concert and know that we will never forget what you have done.”

“Thanks … but I wish I could forget what I did. You shouldn’t have.”

“Yeah, but we did anyway,” Adriane said.

“I acted like such an idiot.” Kara opened the box and removed a silver and gold band. And in the center was a small clasp ready to hold a stone — or jewel. “Wow. This is really nice!” Kara admitted truthfully.

“Read the inscription,” Emily said, smiling.

To Kara,
Your star will always shine in our hearts.
Love, your friends at Ravenswood.

So wait … Kara gets a present, even though she treated everyone like crap throughout this book? That doesn’t make much sense. Also, it kinda seems like a dick move to give Kara something that reminds her of her mind-rape experience, especially when she says that she doesn’t want to remember it.

That scene is followed by one where the bonds between the party members are strengthened, because no matter what the hell Kara did with that Fairy Map, the party’s ready to face the Sorceress and thwart her plans!

“… whatever the Sorceress tries next, she’s got the three of us to deal with! Right, girls?” Kara held out her hand. Emily and Adriane stood strong and ready, jewels sparkling, hinting at concealed power.

“Right!” Emily put her hand on top of Kara’s.

“Right!” Adriane put her hand on her friends’ hands.

The new edition removes the above scenes and replaces them with one that explains why Adriane had resistance to Charm, while Kara didn’t:

Emily glanced at Adriane and nudged her. “You were also under the creature’s spell, Adriane.”

“Yeah,” Adriane signed. “And I’m really sorry about the way I acted. Really sorry, Kara.”

“I know.” Kara half smiled. “Thanks. But you broke your spell. I couldn’t.”

“Because of this.” Adriane held up her wrist. Her wolf stone sparkled with amber light. A stern look from Emily made the warrior quickly cover her jewel.”

“It’s okay, you can say it. We all know I don’t have a jewel.”

“And that’s why Johnny — whatever it was — was able to control you for so long,” Emily said. “That locket acted like a magic jewel, focusing your magic.”

“Only it wasn’t good magic,” Kara stated. “Just like the last jewel I didn’t have.”

And then, instead of the party deciding they’d best hang together, Kara suggests leaving the party because of her lack of control over her magic!

“…what about the next time? Am I going to turn against my friends when they need me? Or worse?” She hung her head, letting her long blond hair fall over her face.

“Kara, what are you saying?” Adriane asked.

“I … I’m just not good at magic and I hate being not good at anything! I’m not going to use magic anymore. I’ll help out with the Town Council, but you’re going to have to find another mage.”

“Kara, you’re our friend,” Emily pleaded. “You can’t leave.”

“Emily, that’s exactly why I have to.” Kara faced the other girls and animals. “You guys are my friends … and I can’t keep getting you in trouble. I just want to go back to being normal.”

While all this drama is going on in both editions, Ozzie is checking the Ravenswood e-mails. The Town Council wants someone to represent Stonehill in Washington because the preserve has been marked for landmark status. The party suggests Kara (in the original edition), but Kara decides to let Mrs. Windor go instead because she’s still all messed up about not being able to control her magic. Later, an odd shooting star-shaped icon appears on the magitech computer. Ozzie clicks it and discovers a message from Be*Tween and Henry Gardener. I’m posting both letters from the original edition, because their contents are smushed together into a single e-mail in the revision. Here’s Be*Tween’s:

Your concert was wonderful. We’re sorry we could not be there. We hope that until we return, you will continue to spread good magic with music. There is so much to be done. Music to heal, music to fire our passions, and music to blaze forever as inspirations of goodness. Don’t give up on the Spirit of Avalon.
Your friends,

And here’s Gardener’s:

Your path has been opened, young mages. Now you must go forward, together as three, and alone as a healer, a warrior, and a blazing star. It is time to walk your path … and come home. The magic is with you, now and forever.
Henry Gardener

If you’ve read the entire series (either edition), you’ll quickly realize that there’s no way Gardener could’ve sent a message to the party. So how does it get sent? (Thank god his message was added to Be*Tween’s in the revision — it makes things less confusing.)

The original edition just ends there, while the new edition suggests that while Adriane, Emily, and Ozzie are all for going on with their quest, Kara is very hesitant. What will her decision be: stay with the party, or just hang out on the sidelines? Right now … it’s all up in the air.

Status Update!
Kara obtains: a bracelet or necklace for a Sparkly Rock! (original edition only)
Kara leaves the party! (new edition only)

Next time: a new-edition-only epilogue — and the only redeeming part of this book!

Spellsinger, Chapter 2: Beasley Windor, Paranormal Investigator

Kara logs into a chat on the Ravenswood forum to tell her Catty Girl Posse and other friends about Johnny Conrad’s appearance at the Ravenswood Benefit. (The thread’s been very active in the old edition; apparently the Catty Girls decided today would be Let’s-Make-Our-Posts-Rhyme Day.) In the old edition, Kara considers mentioning Be*Tween’s disappearance, which segues into this spiel on internet safety:

For an instant, Kara considered admitting the band’s disappearance, but the truth was, Kara had no idea what was really going on with Be*Tween. She’d learned to be careful about believing a lot of stuff people posted on the Net.

Remember, this book was written when the internet was getting more widespread — I just quit using AOL and got a DSL connection when I first read it — so the warning was (and still is) appropriate for all those children new to the web. (Admitting all this also dates me quite a bit ^_^)

Anyway, while the chatroom (or message board) turns into a puddle of squee, Adriane barges in with some Bad News. Mrs. Windor sneaked onto the preserve with her niece’s camera, hoping to take some pictures of magical creatures. Kara realizes (in the new edition) that Mrs. Windor could post a video of the animals on YouTube and cause some serious problems (and create a viral hit). Since they’re the only party members at the preserve, Adriane and Kara run out into the woods to scare off their favorite City Council member.

However, it seems like the magical animals have everything under control: they set traps everywhere! (I assume this is Rommel’s doing ^_^) Kara and Adriane find some quiffles manning some traps in the woods, but decide to help out a little, too. Adriane fires a Magic Missile in both editions, but what precipitates this differs. In the new edition, Kara just taps Adriane’s Wolf Stone, causing her to fire an Improved Magic Missile that creates a barrier between Mrs. Windor and some animals; in the old edition, things are a little drawn out:

“…You create a diversion with your jewel.” Kara pointed to the golden wolf stone locked in the black band around Adriane’s right wrist. “I’ll take care of Mrs. Windor.”

Boldly, Kara stepped out from behind the tree. Behind her she heard a faint crackling and felt magical power building. Turning sharply, she saw Adriane snap into a fighting stance, whirling her arm in a circle. The wolf stone glowed brightly with sparkling energy.

“On second thought–” Kara said, reaching out to Adriane, but she was too late. A searing bolt of golden light ripped from the stone, smashing into a cluster of dead branches over Mrs. Windor with a terrible explosion.

After this, Kara scolds Adriane for casting Magic Missile — even though it did create an acceptable diversion.

The party’s not out of the woods yet: Mrs. Windor almost steps on Rommel! Rommel’s all like, “I’m just a squirrel trying to catch a nap … except I’m a MAGIC KOALA!” which causes Mrs. Windor to go “WTF!” and fall on her ass. And to top that, an Earth Fairimental materializes and scares the shit out of Mrs. Windor. It smashes her camera to bits. The whole experience causes Mrs. Windor to run out of the preserve screaming.

I would like to note here that throughout this whole misadventure in the woods, we get some insight as to why Mrs. Windor hates nature. She thinks it’s dangerous. Damn, she must have had some horrible experiences at sleepaway camp or something to feel that way.

Anyway, the Earth Fairimental has an important message for the party. The words are different in both editions, but the gist is the same: Kara’s in danger, and the party has to spellsing together. The new editions also adds in some bit about using the Fairy Map, which the party lost in Book 1 (thanks a lot, Kara).

After the Fairimental dissipates, the party realizes that some serious shit must be going down if the Fairimentals are trying to contact them. In the original edition, Kara acts like she doesn’t care about it, insisting that her show is more important:

“We have to tell Emily about this. The Fairimentals need our help,” Adriane called out to her.

Kara shot her a withering gaze. “Well, that’s your department, isn’t it? Saving the day? I just have my stupid little concert to take care of, thank you very much!”

She walked off, head held high.

“Wait!” Adriane ran after her. “It said you had to be careful.”

“It’s a twig!” Kara yelled. “It was hard to understand anything it said.”

“We have to get a message to Zach,” Adriane insisted, referring to the human boy she’d met on Aldenmor who’d been raised by mistwolves.

Dammit, shouldn’t we know who Zach is by now? You don’t need to keep reminding us. Also, Kara’s line about her concert is moved to much later in the book in the new edition, when she’s clearly brainwashed. There’s no reason for her to be so bitchy now. Oh, and the party doesn’t even think about contacting Zach until much later in the revision, either.

In the new edition, the party’s conversation focuses instead on a Fairy Map they clearly don’t have:

“What was it trying to tell us about the Fairy Map?” Adriane asked.

“We already know the sorceress has it.” Kara remembered the gift the fairy creature called Phelonius had tried to give her. At the time, she didn’t know how important it was. In fact, she didn’t know what it was at all. Until it had been stolen and taken back to the sorceress. It was their one clue to finding Avalon.

“Maybe she’s trying to use it,” Adriane guessed.

Anyway, Kara decides that, despite the obvious danger, the show must go on. Adriane is not amused.

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Kara only contacts the Catty Girls about B*Tween. Also, Kara texts them instead of IM-ing them.
  • Adriane calls Kara “Lady Gaga” instead of “Hannah Montana”.
  • Adriane doesn’t mention that she met an Earth Fairimental on Aldenmor.

Next time: Mayor Davies tries to use slang. It doesn’t go well.

Spellsinger, Chapter 1: Tweenage Squee

It’s another big day for Kara: today — if the inspection goes well — the Town Council will give the party a permit for their Ravenswood Benefit Concert. So what better way to pump Kara up for the meeting than singing along to Be*Tween’s latest single?

Okay, not the kind of music that would get me pumped up, but whatever. Be*Tween is Kara’s new favorite band, and they’re supposed to play at the benefit, so it’s appropriate.

Anyway, Kara rushes outside to meet her dad, making sure to take a moment to say bye to her mom. Mrs. Davies just says a cursory “Okay, dear,” which isn’t commented on in the original edition. The scene is expanded in the revision, and sheds some light on Kara’s personality and her relationship with her mother:

“I have a big meeting with the council about the benefit!” Kara yelled. For a second she wished her mom would just show a little interest in all of her hard work at Ravenswood. Well, this concert would be hard to ignore! Cheered by that thought, she shot out the front door, bolting into a crisp October morning.

For those wondering about the series’ continuity, you’ll be glad to know this book takes place sometime in October, meaning that the events of the series so far have taken place over three or four months.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Windor and some members of the city council — Sid Stewart, Lionel Waxxer Hoover, and Mary Rollins — are waiting impatiently for Mayor Davies and Kara to arrive. Emily shows up and decides to do some advertising for the Ravenswood website. Of course, in the original edition it’s also an opportunity to mention a real-life sponsor of the series:

“We’ve linked to the kids’ division of the National Humane Society called NAHEE [National Association for Humane and Environmental Education]. It’s all about helping animals.”

It’s a little bit harder to get to the parents, educators, and kids sections of the website now, so the above quote is significantly different in the new edition. Emily only mentions that she’s posted articles on animals and environmental issues, because “we all have to think ‘green'”.

Mrs. Windor doesn’t really give a shit about the website, though — she just wants to make sure there’ll be no more incidents with “fake” unicorns or other wild beasties. She seems to be alone in this regard; everyone else on the town council loved Lorelei’s unexpected appearance at the last football game. Hell, the team actually won that night. (And against a high school team, too!)

Kara finally shows up and gives the city council a tour of the great lawns, where the benefit should take place. She’s enthusiastic about Be*Tween’s participation in the event, and the council is excited by all the media attention Stonehill will get. However, Adriane arrives and bursts everyone’s bubble by showing Kara an e-mail from Be*Tween’s agent. Be*Tween has disappeared, so they won’t be able to attend the benefit. This pisses off everyone who isn’t Mrs. Windor.

Then Adriane shows Kara another e-mail. Be*Tween’s agent is sending another of his clients to take the band’s place at the benefit: current teen idol Johnny Conrad. The party turns into a puddle of squee, because Johnny Conrad is Just That Awesome. Meanwhile, Mrs. Windor does a Finger Pyramid of Evil Contemplation and imagines Ravenswood trampled under the feet of a herd of squeeing pre-teens.

Interesting note here: the name of Be*Tween’s talent agency in the original edition (Cigam Management) holds a clue to defeating a boss that shows up in the next book. The agency’s name is changed in the new edition to “Worldwide Tours Unlimited”, and has no connection to the boss. Unfortunately, it also means that when Kara does figure out how to beat said boss in the new edition, the solution is kinda pulled out of thin air because it’s not referenced anywhere else.

Anyway, I hate Mrs. Windor and her unreasonable hatred of the party, nature, and unicorns. Nobody can be as bitter as her in real life, right?

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • It’s official: “B*Tween” is how you spell the band’s name.
  • Mrs. Windor doesn’t call Emily by name in her inner monologue initially — she just calls her “red-haired girl”.
  • Kara doesn’t run up to Adriane when she arrives with the news regarding B*Tween and Johnny Conrad.

Next time: Mrs. Windor kicks everyone’s favorite magic German koala bear.

Spellsinger: First Impressions

Spellsinger. Oh my f’ing god Spellsinger. I’m probably echoing 90% of fandom by admitting how much I hate this book. Basically, Kara acts really bitchy — like, out of character bitchy — and (in the original edition) gets rewarded for it. At least the new edition explains her OOC-ness and makes her face the consequences of her actions, but it still doesn’t wash out the bad taste this book leaves in my mouth.

This is also the Obligatory Musical Volume that I’ve been referring to on occasion. Usually when a show resorts to a Musical Episode, it means the showrunners are totally out of ideas. However, Spellsinger has been hinted at since Book 2, so it’s existence is more organic and less “Oh, wouldn’t it be fun if all the characters broke out into song for an entire book?” Of course, you could argue that it exists solely to introduce young readers to Be*Tween songs….

Anyway, this is one of the inter-party conflict books; you can tell because the title is the name of a character class. I know, spellsinging is technically a talent a magic user in the Avalon universe can have, but whatever.

It took me a long while to figure out which Jewel Riders episode this book reminded me of, until I remembered that it followed the plot of what has to be the worst episode of that series: “Fashion Fever”. In that episode, Gwen/Starla is given a shapeshifting dress to wear at the royal fashion show. However, said dress brainwashes the princess into infiltrating the Jewel Keep, obtaining the locations of the remaining Wizard Jewels, and handing the information to Kale and Morgana. Luckily, the other Jewel Riders stop Gwen/Starla from reaching the Keep. The only redeeming part of that episode is that there’s an actual sword fight — which, honestly, I wish there was more of in Jewel Riders.

I don’t have too much to say about the covers, other than that I hate the original one. The girls’ hair colors are badly painted in, Adriane’s wearing a weird silver tracksuit and playing a Daisy guitar (I remember picking up a catalog for them when I first got the book), Kara’s vaguely pointing at something (a Fairy Map, which I didn’t notice until recently), and Emily’s just hanging out. At least the new cover shows the girls playing the correct instruments — Adriane with her Fender Stratocaster, and Emily with her flute. Oh, and Ozzie makes a rare cover appearance.

Just a heads-up: My recaps for this book are going to be very media-intensive. Expect a truckload of video clips — because it’s not a true musical unless there’s music. Also, almost every fight in this book can be illustrated by clips from the Scott Pilgrim movie or video game, and the music from both are way better than Be*Tween’s stuff. (On a side note: am I the only one who hates Be*Tween?)

What to look forward to in this book:
* OOC Kara and Adriane!
* Video clips galore!
* Pimped-out Kara Outfits!
* Really bad music!
* Skrulls!
* Everyone’s favorite German commander-turned-magic koala!

Next time: Kara has mommy issues.

Credit where it’s due: old cover from the official Avalon site, new cover from Amazon.