This first book in Kate Robinson Dunne's Osgoode Odyssey introduces readers to Ludlow Osgoode and an assortment of creatures human beings don't believe in.
A few interesting facts about these creatures…
1. Banshees are not known for their ability to nurse children back to health, and are definitely not qualified to prescribe medication.
2. Goblins have terrible memories and are known to hold grudges, although they usually can’t remember why.
3. Fairies are not known for kidnapping human children, nor for having their hearts broken by them, but both of these things have happened—this is the story of it.
Read an Excerpt
On Ludlow Osgoode's eleventh birthday, he was kidnapped by a fairy. Not a hundred fairies, not even a pair of fairies, but one single fairy, all on her own. You're probably wondering how a thing as small and feeble as a fairy could kidnap something as large and awkward as an eleven-year-old boy, and the answer is: with trickery, of course.
Ludlow was also quite small for his age, but that's beside the point.
The actual trick, though quite extraordinary from a human's point of view, was quite elementary from the fairy's.
Ludlow wouldn't remember the trick for some time, though. When he first came to, he was more preoccupied with figuring out where he was than how he'd gotten there. It was so dark when he opened his eyes that he wasn't even sure they really were open, but slowly the interior of a wooden packing crate came into view above him; he was lying flat on his back at the bottom of it. Only a very dim light seeped in through the knotholes and cracks between the wooden slats, until he sat up, and a warm glow filled the crate as a small voice shouted, "Get off of me!"
She crawled out from under him and flew clumsily about the place, shaking out her wings and straightening her clothes.
"A fairy," he whispered.
She flitted and fled, seemingly in a panic now, from one crack of light to another, like a wasp trapped in a car.
"It can't be," Ludlow said, trying to focus his tired eyes on her as she darted past, glowing ever brighter.
"Oh, it can be," she said. "It can be, and it is."
"Is what?" he asked.
"A kidnapping," she said.
"We're being kidnapped?" he asked, only then noticing that the crate was moving.
"No! Not we. You. You're being kidnapped," she said. "I'm kidnapping you."
"You?" he asked, pointing. "You're kidnapping me?"
"Yes," she answered. "Why do you sound so unconvinced?"
"Well, if you're kidnapping me, shouldn't you be on the outside of this crate?"
"You silly boy," she said, laughing, though her hands slowly curled into fists. "Things are not always as they seem."
"Oh," he said, and was actually quite prepared to believe her until ...
"Let me out!" she shrieked, slamming her raised fists into the lid of the crate. "Let me out, backstabbing two-timers!"
"Backstabbing two-timers?" Ludlow asked.
"Yes." She turned to face him again, suddenly composed. "Those are my evil henchmen."
"Henchmen?" Ludlow asked.
"Yes, my henchmen. Backstabbing and Two-timers. Goblins have funny names like that."
Goblins are quite complicated creatures for a number of reasons. If you've never had the bad, though sometimes good, fortune to meet one, there are two fundamental personality traits common to all goblins that you should know before you read any further: (1) they struggle with severe bouts of forgetfulness; and (2) they are known to hold a grudge, even though they don't usually remember why.
It is also worth noting that although most goblins' names are somewhat out of the ordinary, these goblins' names were not Backstabbing and Two-timers. As Ludlow would find out, their names were actually Raghnall and Berneas.
"You know what you did," Ludlow suddenly heard one of them say.
"What do you mean?" the other answered.
"Someone's been yelling at us, Raghnall," the first one replied, "and I'm sure it's your fault."
The fairy hovered in the air, seeming to listen for the directions the voices were coming from, and finally flew up to a knothole in the side and looked out.
Ludlow felt the crate drop slightly and rise into the air again as Raghnall huffed and wheezed out the words, "Why is this crate so heavy, do you think?"
"Well, it's got a human child in it for one thing," Ludlow barely heard over the slurps and pops of their footsteps in the wet ground.
"Does it really?" Raghnall asked, almost shouting.
"It was you who tossed him in there, you ignoramus!"
"That sounds very unlike me," he said. "Why would I have done such a thing?"
"I don't remember," Berneas replied.
"It was me!" the fairy shouted through the knothole. "I forced you to do my evil bidding!"
"Someone's yelling at us," Raghnall said.
"I masterminded this whole operation," she said, turning to Ludlow. "It was all me. They're just transporting you." The crate jerked once more. "And they're not even doing a good job of that."
Indeed, Ludlow was finding the trip quite bumpy and unpleasant, as you can imagine travelling in a packing crate might be — especially when your only company is a disgruntled fairy, and you have no idea where you're going or whether you will ever return.
Apart from being tossed about inside the crate, which felt quite real, the whole ordeal was like something out of a dream. The thought occurred to Ludlow that he may have suffered a blow to the head, knocking him unconscious, or that he was asleep and dreaming and these creatures didn't exist except in his own imagination. This is the typical human response when confronted with creatures human beings don't believe in and, in fact, Ludlow was quite groggy, as if he'd just awoken from a deep sleep.
He tried closing his eyes tight and opening them again a number of times, but every time he opened them the fairy was still there, hovering above him with her arms crossed, and "Backstabbing" and "Two-timers" could still be heard grumbling outside.
"Where are they taking us?" Ludlow finally asked.
"To the ship," the fairy answered.
"Oh," he said, and then realized he still had no idea. "What ship?"
"You certainly ask a lot of questions," she said, landing on his bent knee. "If you must know," she pointed towards another knothole, "it's a goblin ship called the Anathema." Though Ludlow strained his neck he couldn't yet see the ship. He opened his mouth to ask another question but the fairy cut him off. "And, before you ask," she said, "I don't know where it's going. We have a deal. This time, I'm leaving the crew before they shove off."
"Are you sure?" Ludlow asked, leaning back.
"Of course I'm sure! Why wouldn't I be sure?"
"They've trapped you inside a packing crate."
"Let me out!" she squealed, leaping from his knee. Her head disappeared through a knothole in the lid, but with a thud it reappeared, and with a groan she came hurtling back down towards him and landed unconscious in his lap.
"Fairy," he said, as he picked her up by the hood of her tunic. He pressed her tiny body against his ear to listen for a breath. It was faint, but a fairy's breathing always is. Then he heard her heartbeat. He tried gently shaking her awake, but it didn't do any good; she was as limp as a rag doll. He cradled her in his hands and watched her glow flicker like a loose light bulb. Now that she was still, he was finally able to get a close look at her. She was fair skinned with raven black hair, wearing a green hooded tunic and trousers, and tiny black slippers on her feet. He carefully turned her over to reveal her wings. They were nothing like the insect wings he had seen on fairies in picture books; they were long and gold-feathered, almost like the wings of his canary, Joey.
Without thinking, he slowly closed his fingers around her as he did when removing Joey from his cage. He thought he'd probably never see Joey again or his dog, Toby, or his parents. Then he realized he might never see his grandmother again. In the whole eleven years of his life he had never felt loneliness the way he did at that moment.
Though the fairy was unpleasant company, he actually found himself wishing she would wake up just as he felt her squirming between his fingers and heard her muffled voice trying to shout, "As your kidnapper, I order you to release me!"
He spread his fingers and she flew right back to the same knothole. "Are we almost there?" she yelled.
"What did she say?" Raghnall asked.
"Who?" Berneas asked.
"I can't take much more of this," the fairy said, burying her face in her hands.
There are two things you should know about Ludlow Osgoode before you read any further: (1) he started reading earlier than most children and was quite clever as a result (By his eleventh birthday he had read fairy tales, mystery novels and volumes A through T of his grandfather's Encyclopaedia Britannica.); and (2) although he was small for his age, he was resourceful and stronger than he looked.
While the fairy wasn't looking, Ludlow stretched his arms out and pressed lightly against the sides of the crate. No movement. He pressed harder. Nothing. He felt along the corners for a gap wide enough to get his fingers into, hoping to pry it open somehow, but there wasn't a single one. It was sealed tight. He noticed a knothole in the base of the crate between his legs, and felt the pockets of his cardigan and trousers for something, anything he could drop through the hole to leave a trail, but they were empty except for a bit of crumpled tissue. Then he heard what sounded like voices outside that weren't Backstabbing's or Two-timers. Distant voices, some of which had to be human, he was almost certain.
The crate tilted and Ludlow slid into its side, his face pressed against a knothole. When he opened his eyes, through the left one he finally saw their destination.
The Anathema was a centuries-old tall ship docked at Princess Pier. Ludlow had read about tall ships in the encyclopaedia, but had never been so close to one. Under different circumstances, he might have thought it quite beautiful. Despite the spitting rain and late hour, it had attracted the eye of a number of passers-by who stopped to admire the craftsmanship of times gone by. Curiously, they were unfazed by the fact that it was crawling with goblins. Some even stopped the goblin crew to ask questions about the ship. One would have expected the onlookers to ask questions such as "What's happened to your face?" or, "Have you been in a terrible, disfiguring accident?" or, "Have you considered shaving that?" or even, "Are you a goblin?" instead of the more popular, "What's this ship's top speed?" or, "Are those the original sails?" or even, "Are the cannons still functional?"
It was a glorious tall ship by all accounts, but still one would expect folk to be slightly taken aback by the sight of the crew. The reason they weren't is partly the reason Ludlow found himself trapped in a packing crate. To humans, the goblins didn't look like goblins at all. Even Ludlow couldn't make out a single goblin amongst the crowd. They all looked like people: ordinary, everyday, unremarkable people — thanks to a fairy named Adhair, who had enchanted the entire crew.
In case you've never had the bad, though sometimes good, fortune to meet a fairy, you should know that all fairies possess some sort of magic, each one different from the other. In Adhair's case, she was able to alter human beings' perceptions of creatures, places and time. It was a gift that she had never found particularly useful herself but one that made other creatures who ordinarily hid from humans wish to possess her.
Ludlow could make out faces and bits of conversations as they drew closer to the crowded pier. He opened his mouth to shout, then hesitated. He looked back at Adhair, whose face was still buried in her open palms. He looked out again. He took a deep breath. "Help!" he tried to shout out, but didn't hear a sound. "Help me!" he tried again. Still not a word seemed to come out of his mouth, though he felt his lips moving and the breath surge out of him. "I'm being kidnapped! I'm in the packing crate!" He punched and kicked silently against the sides as he tried yet again. "Heeeeeeelllllp!"
"They can't hear you, you know," Adhair huffed. He looked back at her through teary eyes to see that her hands were now firmly clamped over her ears. "I can, though," she said, as she removed them. "So cut it out."
"I think the crate is shouting at us, Berneas," they heard Raghnall say.
After another bumpy stretch of the journey, it was Ludlow's turn for a knock to the head when the crate was finally dropped onto the deck of the Anathema. Everything, including Adhair, seemed to be spinning when he opened his eyes, but she was actually still firmly camped at the knothole, looking out as she had been for some time.
"Bernie, I demand to be let out of here this instant. I want what was promised to me," she said.
A large, hazel-coloured eye appeared at the knothole, and a horrible smell wafted in and filled the crate. The smell of goblins can only be described as a cross between the smell of dirty socks and wet socks that have been allowed to go mouldy, which is curious, because goblins don't even wear socks.
"Oh, hello, Harry," Raghnall said to her. "What are you doing in there?"
"You tossed me in here with him. That wasn't the plan. I wish I could enchant you to have more than a five-second memory!" she shouted.
"That doesn't sound right," Berneas said.
"What doesn't?" she asked.
"That was the plan. It was the plan, indeed. I even wrote it down," Berneas said. There was a rustling of papers and then, "Yes, that's right. Step one: Adhair — that's you — kidnaps human child," she read. "Step two: Raghnall and Berneas — that's us — intercept Adhair and human child."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Adhair asked. "You were supposed to assist me, not intercept me."
"Intercept. Good word, that is," Raghnall said.
"Step three: Raghnall and Berneas capture Adhair and human child in packing crate and return to ship."
"Whose plan is that?" Adhair asked.
"Morag's," Berneas answered.
"That backstabbing two-timer," she said, shaking her head. "Is there a fourth step to her plan?"
"Can you read that?" Berneas asked.
"Didn't you write it?" Raghnall asked.
"I can't remember," Berneas said. "Just read it."
"Step four: Dump Adhair ... and human child into ... the sforaje rum? Storage rom? Storage room," Raghnall read. "That's it. Storage room."
"Raghnall," the fairy said.
"You used to be my favourite," she said.
"Thank you, Harry," he said. Ludlow felt the crate being slowly shoved along the deck of the ship as Raghnall asked, "Isn't she sweet?"
"I don't think she is actually, but I can't remember why," Berneas answered, just as the crate tipped over the edge of a staircase and, after quite a few more knocks to Ludlow's head, elbows, knees and various other body parts, smashed to pieces at the bottom.
He pushed away the broken planks of wood and looked around, trying to catch a glimpse of the goblins, but the hatch had already dropped closed above them. In the dark he could only make out parts of the room as Adhair darted past illuminating the shadowy corners as she flew from one to another. It was, indeed, a storage room; Adhair's glow revealed other intact crates, barrels strung together with rope, shelves stacked high with loaves of bread, and empty burlap sacks piled on the floor before she finally came to rest on a stair and cried into her sleeve.
Ludlow thought maybe he should try to console her, but by now he was fairly sure that if he did, she would just remind him she was his kidnapper and therefore didn't need consoling.
Over Adhair's whimpering, he heard hordes of goblins muttering above deck, the sound of wet ropes slapping down into puddles, and then the clink and rattle of metal chain links and a loud, lingering, dripping splash: the anchor being raised. He grabbed Adhair by the legs and used her to light his way around the room. He climbed to the top of the stairs and tried to push the hatch open, first with his fist and finally by pressing against it with his back.
"There's no way out!" Adhair yelled. "Unhand me this instant."
"There has to be a way out!" Ludlow yelled back at her. "You got me into this, now you get me out of it."
"You got yourself into this," she replied, "and as much as I'd like to get out of here, there is no way out."
Ludlow held her up to his face and saw that she was still crying. She reached back and pulled her hood down over her eyes, but he had already seen her tears, small though they were. He set her down on the stair beside him and listened as the gangway was pulled back onto the ship, and onlookers from the shore shouted their wishes to the crew for a safe journey, from which Ludlow wasn't sure he would ever return.
"There are people out there watching. How did the goblins get past all those people unnoticed?" he asked. "Or do goblins not look the way I think they look?"
"I don't know how you think they look," she said with a sniffle. "I suppose they look like human beings. Short, greyish, hairy human beings with pointy ears and snouts."
"Snouts," he repeated.
"I suppose they don't look that much like human beings," she said.
"Do they wear clothes?" he asked.
"Of course they wear clothes. They're not animals."
"But they look like clothed animals?" he asked.
"Well, yes, but not to those human beings out there. To them the goblins look just like other human beings. Ugly ones, mind you, but human beings just the same. I've enchanted them. It'll wear off soon," she sighed, "but not before we're well away from here."
Excerpted from "Ludlow Lost"
Copyright © 2017 Kate Robinson Dunne.
Excerpted by permission of Two Pigeons Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Book 1 in the Osgoode Odyssey. Ludlow Lost is a modern-day telling of a classic fairytale with a twist. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's great for kids of all ages and had wonderful character development with clear and strong voices. I loved that there were a wide variety of magical creatures from mermaids to goblins, to fairies and banshees. You can't help but love Ludlow as he goes on this magical adventure and root for him all the way.
Reviewed by Patricia Bell for Readers' Favorite Ludlow Lost by Kate Robinson Dunne is a children’s fantasy about an eleven-year-old boy, (who is small for his age) named Ludlow, who gets kidnapped by a fairy and a couple of goblins, and brought to a ship which is captained by a banshee named Morag. Ludlow is taken on quite a journey and learns more than a few things about mythical creatures, or should I say, creatures that humans do not believe in. Throughout the tale, Ludlow meets a fairy, goblins, a mermaid, a banshee, and ghost water. During his adventure to break free from the clutches of the evil banshee, Ludlow learns quite a bit about these creatures that humans do not believe in. He also learns that, many times, things aren’t always as they seem. This fast paced tale by Kate Robinson Dunne is a brilliant and exciting read from cover to cover. The adventure begins from the very first page and continues throughout the story. I absolutely love how the story is narrated in such detail that the reader gets a personal connection with each of the characters. Adhair (Harry) is my favorite. She’s a fairy, who, for a little thing, has a lot of grit. She made me giggle more than once. In short, Ludlow Lost by Kate Robinson Dunne is my all-time favorite children’s story. Much applause to Kate for her amazing imagination and ability to bring characters to life in a special sort of way. I hope to read many more adventures from this author.