Calyx of Teversall (2011), by Maia Appleby

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults. It appears in volume 17.3.

Calyx of Teversall

My initial response to Calyx of Teversall was not entirely positive, a result of the rather stilted—rather than merely simplistic—writing style.  The style continues throughout the text, but the further I read, the less it seemed to matter.  The story itself should be stereotypic, but is not: while the characters encounter gnomes and fairies and there is an evil Rumplestiltskin-like creature after our protagonist, Maia Appleby keeps her plot and characters fresh and lively. We really come to like and respect young Calyx (formerly Charles), his mother, and the aunt and uncle who take him in and hide his identity.

Calyx is protected by fairy magic in his youth—one reason the Borgh elf Fenbeck wants to capture him.  This magic is augmented by his naturally cheerful and friendly disposition, and he eventually gains access to trading directly with the gnomes, who are master jewellers and gem-cutters. Calyx is taught their trade, and would be set for a life of honest, lucrative labour with his antique-shop owner uncle, were it not for the return of Fenbeck, who discovers his whereabouts.  In order to overcome Fenbeck, and return him to his original beaver form (now there’s a lovely Canadian twist!), Calyx must learn Fenbeck’s true name…

This is a simple story, but one that pleases in its straight-forward narration and honest character development.  In the end, Calyx’s trust and honesty—and the help of the fairies—help remove the threat of Fenbeck, and all works out for the best.

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