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Reviewed by Lee Ashford for Readers' Favorite
“Return to Cardamom” by Julie Anne Grasso is an appealing story for pre-teens through young (or not so young) adults. This is book 2 in “The Adventures of Caramel Cardamom” series; it is the sequel to “Escape from the Forbidden Planet”. Cardamom is a planet populated by elves. The elves have various powers and abilities, but not all elves have the same abilities. Caramel Cardamom is the granddaughter of the King of Cardamom, and the daughter of one of the planet’s foremost healers. Caramel herself is in training to become a healer, but unbeknownst to herself or others, she already possesses healing abilities far in excess of what even her mother has. The economy of Cardamom is tied exclusively to the export of cardamom pods, which are the seed pods of a very sensitive intelligent plant. The pods are the source of energy used predominantly on thousands of civilized planets in the galaxy. In this episode, the “bad guys” from the first book return, endangering the entire planet’s production of cardamom pods, placing the entire galaxy in a serious bind. But all is not lost! Caramel and friends come to the rescue, and save the galaxy from the evil clone Alexander222. There is plenty of action in this book; enough for three or four books, in fact. But this is really not entirely a standalone story. There are numerous references which would make better sense if the first book were read first.
The writing is outstanding. This author has superb descriptive skills which have served her well in creating various planets and their respective “people” so that the reader can visualize them with no problems. Her description of foods and drink will make your mouth water! She has also created her young heroine to be an extremely strong character, but one with some physical defects. This seems to have been an intentional move on the author’s part to encourage kids with disorders who might otherwise feel impaired. Caramel is the heroine, but she is also just one of the gang. This story was a pleasure to read. I recommend it to all older children who are able to read chapter books, up to adults who enjoy reading an occasional pre-teen book. I have already acquired the first book in the series, and plan to read and review it soon. I am confident it will be every bit as enjoyable as this one.