Old Favorites: Wren to the Rescue

Quests are always a fun topic for an adventure book. The more dangerous the adventure, the more exciting the read.  What’s not to like?  Daring heroes, impossible tasks, magical mischief, mistaken identities and more await every lucky reader.

Wren to the Rescue, by Sherwood Smith, is full of all of these elements…and more!

* * *

Wren was left at a mountain orphanage when she was just a baby.  At nine, she was transferred to Three Groves Orphanage because of overcrowding.  At Three Groves, she learns how to clean, cook, mend and do farm tasks.  Wren would rather learn how to read and write, act or go on adventures!  But Wren is stuck in life as an orphan; when she’s twelve, she’ll be hired out.  Until then though, she makes a name for herself creating stories and sticking up for other kids.  She meets another orphan, Tess, when she rescues her from some of the bigger orphanage bullies.  Three years later, Wren and Tess are still best friends, doing everything together.

So when Tess announces that she isn’t really an orphan at all, but a princess in disguise, Wren is amazed.  Tess has been under a curse and in hiding from an evil sorcerer the entire time she’s known her!  Wren is completely envious that Tess–quiet, shy Tess–is about to go to the palace to live in luxury and have grand adventures.  Tess though, would rather stay an anonymous orphan with her best friend. When she asks Wren if knowing she’s a princess changes Wren’s opinion of her, Wren tells her of course not. But she does think that their personalities are better suited to each others positions.  Fortunately, Tess isn’t angry–she knows it’s true.

Tess asks Wren to join her–not as a maid servant, but as her friend. Wren promptly agrees, and both girls are magically whisked away by Mistress Leila, one of the orphanage teachers who is actually Tess’ aunt, to the Magic School.  There, Tess meets with her parents and learns that she’s not completely out of danger.  But, reassured by the precautions the King and Queen have taken, the royal family and Wren return to the Palace.  But the curse seems to come true when, during the preparation for her 13th birthday, Tess vanishes. Kidnapped!

Wren saw the person who took Tess, and she saw the magic that was used.  But no one listens to her; they think she’s just a poor girl.  So Wren repeats the phrase she heard Mistress Leila use, waves her hand the same way, and is transported to the Magic School, where she meets a young wizard.  This wizard can’t seem to perform magic reliably, and is stunned to learn that Wren can do a difficult spell just from hearing it one time.  He also has a best friend, another boy training to be a warrior.  They’re willing to listen, so Wren tells them all she knows of Tess’s disappearance.  All three bond over their worry about Tess, and soon Wren, Tyron and Connor are defying the King and setting out on a quest to find and rescue her.

But Wren doesn’t know that both her traveling companions have secrets.  She also isn’t quite sure what to do with the magical abilities she seems to be developing; will they help or hinder in the search for Tess?

Facing evil magicians, enchanted beasts, and magical warriors led by an enchantress, Wren leads the boys over the mountains on a continuing mission to find Tess.  But when her magic backfires, will Wren be able to continue on her quest?  Only by finding Tess and confronting her evil captors will Wren find the answers to her questions.

* * *

Wren to the Rescue was written in 1990, and was followed by two other titles, Wren’s Quest and Wren’s War. The trilogy stopped with some unanswered questions, so I was happy to see that there is now a fourth book, Wren, Journeymage available online through the author’s website.

Although there are princesses and evil sorcerers, dragons (well, sort of) and potential romance aplenty, it’s refreshing to meet a heroine who starts out with no special status or powers.  She’s not a princess or a magician herself, but an ordinary girl with determination, stubbornness and  principles.  Wren is the power behind the quest, the one who organizes the other rescuers, the one who is motivated by to find her friend.  She consults with the boys, but is usually the one they turn to to make important decisions.

If you like quest stories, spunky heroines and magic, you’ll love Wren to the Rescue.  So what are you waiting for?  Read it and find out!


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