The Bards of Birchtree Hall

Fiction - Fantasy - General
370 Pages
Reviewed on 07/30/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Born and raised in the Riverland region of South Australia, Amanda is an artist and author with a passion for all things fantasy. An avid reader as a child, it was Amanda’s dream to one day write and publish her own series of books. Inspired by authors like Tamora Pierce and J.R.R. Tolkein, Amanda’s writing weaves magic, mythology and elemental mysteries to create enchanting worlds and stories. A highlight of her career so far was attending a writing retreat at Crom Castle in Ireland, hosted by Serenity Press. With Irish, Scottish and English ancestry, it was a homecoming of sorts for Amanda. Having always been fascinated by mythology and Old World magic, she was inspired by the stories of the Tuatha Dè and the Otherworld to create the Stormbringer Chronicles.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

The Bards of Birchtree Hall by Amanda Maynard-Schubert finds Neala Moran and her mom embarking on the next chapter of their lives when they move to Ireland. Neala expected a few growing pains as they start their new lives, but the last thing she expected was a magical Otherworld. As she makes new friends, Neala works to solve the mystery behind the weird occurrences that have plagued her life since they arrived in Ireland. A chain reaction occurs after Neala touches a mysterious tree and unlocks shocking secrets of her origins along with amazing otherworldly abilities. Suddenly, the most extraordinary things happen with a horse materializing from the ocean and a mysterious stranger in her dreams, calling her by the name of Neala Stormbringer. As more secrets come to light, she uncovers that she's a bard and has inherited incredible powers that take her into an amazing Otherworld where faeries and magic exist. After Neala learns of a dangerous threat, she finds the fate of everyone she cares about placed upon her shoulders.

An exciting adventure of magic unfolds before Neala's eyes when their move to Ireland becomes a journey to discovering her true self. Her journey starts with change which finds her grieving the loss of her father and adjusting to a move. This is a lovely read that brings Ireland to life through stunning mythology. Amanda Maynard-Schubert captures the details and magic of faeries and an enchanting Otherworld. The characters are delightful and each has a specific role in her journey with her new friend Aine, music mentor Fin, the charming Torrin, the handsome Eamon and his brother Lorcan, and a mysterious fox pup. The further Neala delves into the world of druids and the Otherworld, the more she finds herself. The story takes her through an emotional journey about self-discovery, family, and magic. Maynard-Schubert delivers a delightful read for lovers of urban fantasy, faeries, and magical adventures in The Bards of Birchtree Hall.

Tammy Ruggles

The Bards of Birchtree Hall by Amanda Maynard-Schubert is an entertaining fantasy ride from start to finish. Centering on main character Neala Moran, the intrigue begins when she relocates to Ireland after a heartbreaking loss, where mysterious things start happening around her. Things like her leaf-shaped birthmark hurting when she touches a certain tree. And then there are strange things associated with the ocean, like a large yellow-eyed horse and someone calling her "Neala Stormbringer" in her dreams. She finds out she's a hybrid of sorts; part Faerie, part human, and is capable of magic from long ago. But there is a lot more to her connection with thunderstorms. She realizes she has to learn to master her powers in order to face the danger that's on its way. The Gate has thus far blocked the home of the Fae and other magical beings called The Otherworld. But what happens if The Gate is destroyed? The Guardians are being called on to step in and help, but what will Neala do? Will she be a savior to her loved ones, or will she deny her calling?

Amanda Maynard-Schubert has created a fantasy novel that is easy to become absorbed in because it's different from a lot of other fantasy novels on the market today. Yes, the elements are familiar, but this one is so unique and fresh that it's quite noticeable. This author's writing is immediate and accessible and moves along at an easy pace. I love Neala's character. She is inquisitive, into music, and is faced with a lot, but has the inner strength to deal with it all. I like that she is so realistic, even when knee-deep in mystery and danger. Her realism is what grounds the whole story for me. No matter what fantasy elements arise, you are convinced that she's really grappling with everything. Her mother Dana is an interesting character, even if I don't agree with everything she has said or done. I also like the little creatures that pop in and out along the way, which gives it an almost whimsical feel at times. And the passages about Ireland make the land a character in itself. This is a well-told tale, with story and character arcs that deliver, and you can't always guess what's going to happen in the next chapters. An awesome start that promises a good series. If you know of YA fans looking for something new or different, give them a gift of The Bards of Birchtree Hall by Amanda Maynard-Schubert.