I have for some time now been planning to review the novel of fellow Fanstastic Schooler, Cedar Sanderson. While learning magic does not come up until the end, there is some delightful schooling in this novel.
In the tradition of books like Percy Jackson and the Kane Chronicles, Vulcan’s Kittens, the first book in the Children of Myth series, tells the story of the children of the gods, living among mortals. As is often the case in such stories, our heroine, Linnea Vulkane, does not start the story knowing of her extraordinary heritage. She has grown up as an ordinary girl—well as ordinary as a clever, imaginative girl can be—completely unaware of the greater world around her.
All this changes when Linn goes to spend the summer with her grandfather. Grampa Heff lives alone on a farm in rural ( )with goats and kittens and wilderness not very far away. (I am so embarrassed to say that, even though I’m usually good at these things, and even though it is called Vulcan’s Kittens, I didn’t catch Grampa Heff the first few times. Thrown by the ff for ph!) He is old fashioned and knows how to do many things by hand. Linn is looking forward to a quiet but busy and informative summer.
Then the god Ares shows up, trying to pressure her grandfather into some mysterious scheme, and suddenly nothing is at it seemed. A war is brewing between the gods, and all of humanity is at stake! Luckily for us, Grampa Heff is on the side of keeping us around! But this means gathering allies and facing off against the more powerful gods in Olympus!
Luckily, he is not limited to just the Greek gods! There are South American gods and Hawaiian gods and gods from Egypt. Crazy Coyote makes an appearance, along with feathered serpents, Welsh Coblyns, and numerous other supernatural creatures and beasties. (Don’t want to give too much away!)
Apparently, the gods seldom have children, so the few they have are precious and must be protected during the war. But not all of them are human shaped! So while the war of the gods simmers around her, Linn must help protect four godlings who just happen to look like kittens. (There’s a good reason for this. ) But when one of the kitten strays, Linn must brave the danger of the battling gods.
The pacing of the story is gentle, which is a feature if you love gentle lyrical stories, and a bug if you don’t. Though there are plenty of chases and explosions and scenes of gods doing extraordinary things. It is really in the next book that Linn learns anything about magic. This book is our introduction to her.
Vulcan’s Kittens has many charming aspects, but–appropriate for a blog about schooling–my favorite part of the book was the lessons Linn learns: how to milk a goat, how to build a fire, how to skin a rabbit. Cedar Sanderson has a knack for spinning real information into the story in such a way that it is both informative and very interesting. As Linn learns these lessons, we learn, too. These sequences reminded me of the scene where we meet Oscar the Spacesuit in Have Spacesuit Will Travel—which I often think of as one of the best info scenes I have ever read. The scenes of Linn learning things in Vulcan’s Kittens were just as enjoyable to read as Heinlein’s.
My only regret is that there were not even more such passages.