Title: Tally and the Angel: Canada
Author: Eleanor Dixon
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Tally and the Angel: Canada by Eleanor Dixon is the second in a series and continues the adventures of a twelve-year-old girl, Tally, and her angel companion, Jophiel. They travel to the frigid Yukon with Tally’s dad, and what is supposed to be an innocent trip becomes a race against time to save her dad and a whole village of invisible people living under a 100-year-old curse. As the mystery unfolds, the connections between the present and the past fall into place, and the stakes are high.
Although Tally and the Angel is the second book in a series, it can be read and understood just fine as a standalone. Reading the first book would no doubt enhance the reader’s comprehension of the special relationship Tally has with her angel, Jophiel, and why and how she usually carries him in her pendant around her neck. Still, their relationship is much of what keeps the reader engaged.
Tally is a delightful and precocious British girl, and Jophiel’s ancient wisdom and lightheartedness are in good balance. Likable characters are vital in many genres to most readers, but for a middle-grade reader, having a character to relate to, someone to befriend if the character were real, is extra important. Tally’s love for her dad is palpable, and since her mom is dead, their bond is very close. That she is willing to do anything for him that is good and noble is admirable and a wonderful example of selfless love to young readers.
Eleanor Dixon does a superb job of describing the Yukon, from the frigid temperatures and barren landscape, to the necessity of dressing in layers and specifically what those layers are. In addition, the reader gets a glimpse into traveling by dog sledding, which is a unique form of transportation. From the rich details throughout the narrative, it is clear that the author did ample research for the setting and mood.
The opening jumps right into the action, which grabs the reader’s attention right away. After that, the beginning few chapters are a bit slow as we get into the narrative, and this is perhaps because Dixon needs to set up the new landscape and draw the reader into the world she is building. Once a seemingly innocent trip with the dog sled turns upside down, the mystery and intrigue quickly build as Tally comes across a strange village. From there, the pace picks up, and the layers upon layers of complexity increase, ending in a satisfying climax with very high stakes.
The story ends with a setup for a third book in the series, sure to draw in any fans wanting to read it as soon as it’s released.
The narrative is clean of grammatical and punctuational errors, although due to the British English, some of the Canadian characters’ dialogue could come across as British, at times.
Tally and the Angel is a riveting, high-stakes middle-grade fantasy in a unique setting. Eleanor Dixon has crafted a relatable and likable protagonist in Tally, who sets a good example for young readers to follow. Dixon’s story is an easy and compelling read for any child who wishes to lose themselves in a fun mystery that is ultimately about loyalty and friendship.
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