Review of Rae Bridgman’s first three books

Hi, everyone! Today, I thought I’d do a book review for you, or rather 3 book reviews all by the same author – Rae Bridgman. She’s a Canadian author and artist with a PhD in Anthropology who grew up near me and has written a series of books called The Middle Gate Series. I have only read the first three, so far and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Since I don’t want to include any spoilers, here are the blurbs about each book found on

The Serpent's Spell

The Serpent’s Spell

The Serpent’s Spell is a teen fiction novel about the power of friendship and the mysteries surrounding the snakes of Narcisse, Manitoba. Calamity-prone Wil Wychwood and supernatural artist Sophie Isidor live in the hidden town of MiddleGate. Hundreds of snakes in nearby Narcisse have been murdered, and the cousins set out on a journey to discover who could have done it…

Amber Ambrosia

Amber Ambrosia

Ten-year-old cousins Sophie and Wil face a long and endless summer, until they find out MiddleGate’s honeybees are falling sick. Even the Secretariat on the Status of Magical Creatures seems unable to solve the mystery. Fearing for Aunt Rue’s position at the Secretariat, Wil and Sophie decide to find out who – or what – is attacking the insects after the symbol of a golden bee suddenly appears on Wil’s black medallion.

The children are cast into the secret world of the magical honeybees of MiddleGate; a world where Magykalis honey transforms those who consume it and portends a future when the Serpent’s Chain — a secret magical society — returns to power from Realms Unearthly, Realms of Myth.

Fish and Sphinx

Fish & Sphinx

In this rollicking fishy tale, two eleven-year old cousins, Sophie and Wil, uncover a secret plot by the Serpent’s Chain – an ancient, magical secret society- to seize Manitoba’s Legislative Building (or as it is known in Middle Gate, the Palace of the Blazing Star). The children try to unlock the Palace’s hidden code, aided by a homeless woman with long whiskers and fishy stench who lives by the river. This woman, though, is none other than Catfysh herself, the Spirit of the River. Stone lions, cow skulls, bison and sphinxes and even a stone Medusa spring to life to help the children save the Palace of the Blazing Star.

Manitoba Legislative Building (1913-1920)

Manitoba Legislative Building

link to article on bee colony collapse (click on photo)

Garter Snake

a garter snake like you might find at Narcisse, Manitoba

The thing I find most fascinating about her stories is the location – my hometown. It’s fun to think of magical things happening right under my nose. Because of her interest in anthropology, her stories revolve around certain species of creatures that are becoming endangered. While she adds the element of magic to explain why the garter snakes of Narcisse, Manitoba are dying and why a strange disease is spreading among the local bee population, the two situations are very real. The sad thing is the causes are due more to environmental changes in the world, not magic. If only it was as simple a solution as magic to fix the problem!

The third book continues the series, but this time, they need to save ‘The Palace of the Blazing Star’ (our local parliament building). Evil magicians are trying to take over the government and destroy it from within. That could explain a lot about what our government has been doing as of late! 🙂

These whimsical stories have similar elements to the Harry Potter series, but include environmental issues that bring up the problems in today’s changes in climate and how these changes are affecting the wildlife around us.

I hope you will find them as entertaining as I did.

13 comments on “Review of Rae Bridgman’s first three books

  1. Those stories sound interesting! I love that the stories are set in your hometown too, I doubt a story will ever be set in my hometown. Though it would be funny if one was…maybe I should write one just for fun! 😛

    • Have you seen any of the Australian cop & navy shows by writer/producer Hal McElroy like Blue Heelers, Water Rats, & more recently, Sea Patrol? We’ve been fortunate to have them broadcast here and I really love them. I’m sure you might catch glimpses of local places if you look hard enough. They’re not exactly novels, but would still be fun for you to watch and see if you recognize any of the settings. 🙂

      You really should write something set in your hometown. I’m sure it would be really interesting – especially for anyone who is familiar with the town! Maybe something historical or perhaps a fantasy tale that works in local settings. 🙂

      • Oh this is true, those shows are at least fairly local. The drama/soapie show Home and Away (which is one of Australia’s longest running, it’s huge in the UK apparently as well) is filmed at Palm Beach in Sydney’s northern beaches, which is about a 15 minute drive and then 20 minute ferry ride (or 1.5 hour drive…the ferry is a lot quicker haha). So that’s kind of local. I do recognise a lot of the settings of these shows when they’re filmed in places like capital cities, for example.
        There are a few interesting tidbits of history in the local area, that I have thought of turning into stories. Heeeeey….maybe I could make one of my novellas about the area. Now there’s an idea. But it’s only 3pm…normally I come up with good ideas at 3am…how odd. 😛

      • Think of it this way: On this side of the world, it’s almost 3 am. Actually, it just became midnight here in ‘The Midlands’, but on the east coast it’s probably close to three. 🙂

      • Actually according to the time it says on these comments, it’s 5am over there? Hahaha. Must be a time-zone much further away from where you are. Time differences always fascinate me for some odd reason. 🙂

      • I looked it up and, according to The World Clock, we are 15 hours behind you. There are five and a half times zones in Canada, from one coast to the other. Manitoba is right in the middle, so we are two hours ahead of the west coast and three and a half hours behind Newfoundland on the east coast – just in case you were interested. 🙂

      • Oh wow! Geeze that’s a huge country hahaha! I think we have four timezones in Australia? Think Perth all the way on the Western most side is 3 hours behind us here in Sydney? We’re practically ahead of the whole world. Thus the old joke “Don’t worry about the world ending tomorrow – it’s already tomorrow in Australia!”

      • Hahaha! That’s true! As I was closing down my Twitter feed for the night, I noticed your comment about rain and reading a good book because it was mid afternoon for you there already and we were just heading to bed!

        Australia is bigger than it looks on a map. I wouldn’t have thought you’d have 3 different time zones. That’s like from here to my brother’s place in Victoria, BC – 1/2 of Canada! 🙂

  2. I can’t believe you blogged about snakes! tee hee…these books all sound very intriguing. We have not spotted our basement snake visitor any time during the last two weeks. Do you think he/she is gone? I swear we didn’t murder the snakes in Narcisse. **grin**

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