Also by this author: Nine, Millie Maven and the Golden Vial, Millie Maven and the White Sword, Millie Maven, The Dream Traveler's Quest, Into the Book of Light, The Curse of Shadownman, The Garden and the Serpent, The Final Judgment, Play Dead
Series: Millie Maven #1
Published by Outlaw Studios on October 2020
Genres: Children's, Fiction, Christian, Young Adult, Speculative, Suspense
Millie Maven, a fearful orphan girl who lives with her strict, evil aunt is trapped in a life of cruel punishment without any friends. So on the night of her twelfth birthday, when old Aggie of the woods invites her to take a journey that can change her life forever, Millie knows she has to go. Unsure but desperate, Millie embarks on a great adventure that takes her to the distant, mysterious world of FIGS, the FarPointe Institute for Gifted Students, where she might discover her true value through gifts that defy belief.
The first book in the Millie Maven trilogy introduces us to Millie. Millie is, like so many young people in these kinds of stories, an orphan with a strict, loveless caretaker. Mother—actually her aunt—has very exacting ideas on how a young girl should behave and is quite creative in making her point. Mother’s introduction is intense and abrupt. Her verbal and emotional abuse toward Millie is evident and clear, with an undercurrent of self-righteousness. Millie longs for escape and, on the night of her twelfth birthday, she gets it.
Aggie, the lady of the woods (and that’s about all the explanation we get), comes to Millie’s window and tells her how to escape. She leads Millie to a deep pool and tells her to dive deep through the water and she will come up on the other side in a new place. There, the ways of the Great Teacher will be made known to you.
Millie Maven does so and awakens in the world of FIGS, a training ground for gifted children to discover their true potentials and identities. Think of it as a middle-grade Project Showdown of sorts: gifted children taught to unearth and hone supernatural abilities. Unlike, Showdown, FIGS has a sort of Hunger Games-esque method of attrition. Students undergo trials. Survive the trial and move on. Fail the trial and go home.
It’s during this trial that Millie gets to know their other students and their character traits and various groups and alliances begin to form. Millie and the others settle in and various professors are assigned to teach them various things (though much like the Harry Potter universe, very little teaching seems to happen). Millie finds herself dealing with imposter syndrome—she’s not special like the rest of these kids are!—and also deals with the messages of mysterious visitor.
Millie’s struggle to get out of the cycle of bullying and negative self-talk ultimately leads to the conclusion of Millie Maven and the Bronze Medallion. It’s here that Millie learns that her value is in more than just her abilities—it’s in her self. And it’s that message that carries us on into Millie Maven and the Golden Vial.