Steven Lee Climer

SugarBuzz Books / 234 pages / (October 24, 2013)


If you’ve been a loyal follower of Steven Lee Climer, M is going to come as a bit of a shock. Just letting you know up front so everyone can start on the same page. This is not the baroque horror of Dream Thieves or the terrifying native traditions of Bearwalker or the mounting tension of Climer’s serial killer labyrinth Demonesque. Get ready for a complete change of pace as Climer shifts to a Young Adult fantasy adventure with his Pieces of the World series. Well, not a total transformation — this is just a new stage in a career that sees each book unveil new talents that the author must be keeping in a very large storage locker somewhere. That’s a locker I’d stay away from, at least without daylight and plenty of back-up.

M (Emily) would appear to be a slightly above-average 13-year-old, with a taste for banned exploits. Even she has no inkling of the radical changes that are about to shake up her life. Her life and her ever-loyal best friend Zoey’s life, actually. Because M is no ordinary teen; Emily Tyme is a Mapper. Teamed with a Defender and a Keeper, she will search a world unseen by unremarkable eyes for the magical Pieces of the World, to keep them from the dark forces who would use their remarkable powers for sinister purposes.

All this is revealed to M and Zoey through their “accidental” meeting with Aunt Nellie, who, it turns out, is the new Aunt assigned to watch over the neighbourhood and the children who live there. (The sights and encounters in her endless yard are some of the best mental images of the book.) Nellie immediately recognises M as a Mapper in need of training, so that she can begin her journey to locate the missing Pieces and, basically, save the world. The training she will get from the legendary Captain Cronenbird. The courage to face up to the challenges and dangers ahead can only come from within her. Well, within her and her Defender and Keeper, charged with protecting her on her travels.

Climer may have traded in some of the graphic horror of his previous works, but he has only gained in storytelling ability. The instant you finish the first volume of this series you’ll find yourself reaching for the next. And he’s found a perfect partner in Richard Carbajal. Carbajal’s illustrations evoke a time when imagination reigned, when the adventures of Little Orphan Annie kept listeners and readers on edge, awaiting the next thrilling installment, hanging from the edge of that cliff, knowing that only their hero could save them. That kind of hero is back in little M. She and the spitfire Zoey are off on perilous quests that would have their parents swooning with horror, if they found out, which, for our sakes, I hope they never do.

The Pieces of the World may be intended for the young, but anyone who remembers being young will be just as rivetted to these books. All you need is a taste for adventure and an active imagination to join in. See that you do.