Sisters Even and Odd are magical on alternating days—they may live in an ordinary corner of Connecticut, but they were born in Firoth, a land of spells and enchantments. Even loves magic and everything about it. Odd just wants to fit in with the volunteers at the local animal shelter. While Odd wishes her magic would go away, Even practices magic every chance she gets, dreaming of the day she’ll be ready to become a hero of Firoth.
When the hidden border between the mundane and magical worlds shuts abruptly, the girls find themselves trapped in Firoth. Anxious to reunite with their parents, and assisted by a young unicorn named Jeremy, they discover a wizard is stealing border magic—and that the results will be catastrophic, not just for them, but for all of Firoth! Someone has to stop the wizard; Even realizes she cannot wait until she feels ready, she must be a hero now.
Even and Odd will please readers because the fast-paced story is full of mystical creatures, and a romp into a land full of magic. The story focuses on Even, a likable character who isn’t afraid of jumping into new situations. Throughout the story, Even spends some time in the form of a skunk. This plot twist leads to humorous situations and also comes in handy in times of danger. The interplay between Even and Odd adds conflict in a sweet, sisterly way.
Jeremy, a unicorn, is a delightful and surprising addition to the cast of characters. Not only does Jeremy add humor to the story, but he is also very relatable. Like most children, Jeremy loves playing games, drinking soda, and “fears getting into trouble with his parents.” Jeremy wants to visit the human, aka the mundane-world, because, “Here, I’m just Shimmerglow—the unicorn kid who panics too easily and babbles too much. There. . . where you come from. . . I’d be different. Better.”
The end of the book drags because Jeremy, Even, and Odd are trusting their parents to solve the main conflict. When the three friends finally realize the adults are in danger, then they jump in to save them. However, readers may not understand the references to bureaucracy, and may not connect the commentary on Firoth’s closed borders to how it applies to today’s refugee crisis.
The magical world of Firoth is a fun world full of wonder that teaches the importance of teamwork, empathy, and helping others. Even though Even always dreamed of being a hero, she didn’t feel ready to confront the villain. But she realizes “‘ready’ didn’t matter as much as she’d thought it did. Maybe what mattered was that you did it anyway.” Even’s actions also reinforce the message that in every difficult situation, instead of worrying, you should think of reasons to be grateful.
Even and Odd is an entertaining story with plenty of action, adventure, and humor. Readers who want to step into another world with magic should add Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko to their reading list.
- Even upsets an elf. Then, Even “felt soft, sticky ropes twining around her. She shrieked as she realized it wasn’t rope at all—it was spiderweb pulled from the plush panda and grown with magic. The webbing wrapped around her fast. . . the toy panda flew off the shelf. One leg stuffed itself into Even’s mouth. . .”
- A flower fairy bites Odd, who is in the shape of a skunk. Odd “felt a sharp prick of pain. She yanked her paw back and cradled it against her furry chest. It felt like she’d gotten a flu shot right in the soft pad of her paw. A drop of blood welled up.”
- A dragon shows up out of nowhere and begins chasing Jeremy, Odd, and Even (who is still a skunk). The group try running from the dragon, but then Even “scrambled up onto Odd’s back, stuck her tail in the air, and sprayed as hard as she could behind them as the dragon dove, skimming the fiery meadow. The spray hit the dragon’s mouth as it opened its jaws to breathe more fire. Coughing, it flew upward, away from them.”
- Lady Vell is holding a group captive. In order to help, Jeremy, Even, and Odd lie to Lady Vell in order to get invited inside her house. When Jeremy gets disruptive, Lady Vell “flicked her wrist, and Jeremy was whooshed off the board and tossed onto a table covered in vines. The vines immediately wrapped around him. He was hoisted into the air.”
- Lady Vell sends “creepy dolls” to attack Even. The dolls “surrounded her. . . A doll began to climb up her leg. She shook it off as two leaped up to cling to her arm. . .Kicking at the dolls as if she were playing soccer, Even knocked them away.” Even sprays the dolls with soda and “the dolls collapsed.” The creepy doll scene is described over two pages.
- Lady Vell grabs Even. “Even yelled as she felt Lady Vell’s hand close around her wrist. Her fingers were boney, and she squeezed so tight that it hurt.” Odd changes Even into a skunk. “Lifting up her gloriously fluffy tail, Even sprayed, aiming at Lady Vell’s face.” Lady Vell lets Even go.
- Jeremey, Even, and Odd set the captive adults free. “The wizard sent her fireball spinning across the room, and the flames wrapped around Lady Vell’s wrists like handcuffs.”
- Many different types of creatures live in the magic world, including women with antlers, a snake with nine heads, and a green-skinned two-foot-tall man.
- Even and Odd live in a world where magic exists. When Even annoyed her sister, Odd turned Even into a half skunk, half cat. Throughout the story Even shapeshifts. Occasionally, other people change Even’s form as well.
- Even can levitate “like an astronaut in zero gravity.”
- Even and Odd’s father performs an un-cursing. Odd mixed the ingredients: “a quart of water purified by a unicorn, dirt from a dragon mountain, holly leaves (labeled wings of bat), and a can of sprite that had been wrapped in paper labeled with runes to look more magical.”
- “Soda negated magic. . . it did an excellent job on stuff like cursed amulets, enchanted roses and uncooperative spell books.”
- Jeremy is a unicorn and can poop cupcakes.
- For an unknown reason, all the unicorns’ homes switched places with a lake. A goblin explains, “And sometimes your home up and moves on no matter how polite you are.”
- Even and Odd’s mother takes a house out of storage. The house magically expands when new people arrive.