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Book review: 'Raggleroot' is a scrambled read, full of misadventures

Published: Saturday, Feb. 2 2013 1:00 p.m. MST

"RAGGLEROOT: Flin's Destiny Series No. 3," by Erik Olsen, Sweetwater Books, $16.99, 304 pages (f) (ages 8-11)

Perhaps one has to be a middle-school age reader to really enjoy the Erik Olsen series about Flin and his destiny, the latest of which is "Raggleroot, Flin's Destiny Series No. 3."

For the adult reader looking for a real story and believable plot line, it's frustrating.

It's also somewhat of a wannabe Harry Potter book with magical, mean-spirited plants that threaten to destroy; fantastical plants, some with monkey fur vines, elephant trunks and crocodile feet. Some attack horribly. Others can anticipate what their victims may try to do and prevent it.

(Amazingly, the heroes in the story always get away from them when you think one of these villainous plants would do them in.)

Our heroine and hero, Flowell and Flin, are on the outs in the beginning while Hepple, Fezzy and Inger are all still trying to escape the Cobble Cavern deep under Ireland. The bullies from earlier books — Mr. Sump, Ruel and Parcell — show up to muddy the action.

Meanwhile Raggleroot (and the plants and a bad guy named Blade) are trying to stop their escape. (Why is never really made clear, at least in this volume.)

The story is all over the place without the cleverness of the Potter series. It's much more random and the characters are fairly interchangeable except for those who speak broken pirate English with an Irish brogue.

It moves quickly. Pay attention or you'll get left behind as Sam disappears, a giant metal ivy covers the cathedral and the kids go over the falls in the gas lake.

There's a little bit of everything is this tale, "Snazzards," prisons, sand tunnels, fairies, leprechauns, magic jewels and rings with powers, turtles in the sky, a time-stopping hourglass. Around every corner, behind every door, inside every old box and almost at the beginning of each paragraph is a surprise and usually a nasty one.

(Also, it's fairly critical to have previously read the first two in this series: "Cobble Cavern" and "Garden of the Lost Souls." Otherwise, it really is mass confusion.)

For middle-school readers who don't mind an absence of depth and reality, go for it. For kids who just love constant action with no parents, no teachers or guardians around, this is the book.

It's harmless, but as one young but refreshingly candid reviewer put it, "It's a give-away" rather than a keeper.

If you go ...

What: Erik Olsen book signing

When: Saturday, Feb. 9, 11 a.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, Jordan Landing, 7157 Plaza Center Drive, West Jordan

Web: barnesandnoble.com

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com

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