Fishing and fantasy


Return to Enchantas

By Corey LaBissoniere

Return to Enchantas is the sequel to Corey LaBissoniere’s earlier book Land of Enchantas, previously reviewed in this column. In that first book, a group of modern-day teenagers found themselves transported from what is likely the U.P. to an enchanted world. The teenagers, save one, all managed to return back to their world; but obviously, in this sequel, they will return to Enchantas again.

It would be difficult to summarize the plot from the first book to catch readers up on the second. I will just say that if you enjoyed Land of Enchantas, you’ll enjoy the sequel even more.

The book begins with a captivating opening scene where a teenage girl, Alexis, has been locked in the basement by her father who says she’s evil just like her mother, and so he must protect the world from her.

Then in the succeeding chapters, we are introduced to Becky, a teenage party girl. Becky doesn’t make the best choices about men—in fact, I think my favorite line in the book comes from when she falls in love with Carl at a beer party: “[I]t wasn’t love at first sight. It was drunken lust at first sip.” Becky’s whole family is dysfunctional. Her brother John is one of the stars of the high school football team, but the two kids are basically on their own because their dad is a drunk and a loser, and now he is in trouble for being involved in a hit-and-run accident.

What Becky doesn’t know is that John was previously in the Land of Enchantas and there he was given the Bracelet of Hope, which would relieve their father of his drinking problem, but John is so bitter toward his father that he has refrained from using it.

Two other members of Becky’s school have also been to Enchantas before—Ryan and Sally. Becky ends up becoming friendly with them and plans to go with them and John to a party. However, while they are driving there, they see a strange light and then a girl with butterfly-like wings appears.

Becky is clueless about Enchantas, but the others do not seem as surprised when the fairy tells them that Professor Mel needs them to return to Enchantas to help him—Mel is the kid who was left behind and he has now achieved great prestige in Enchantas.

Unfortunately, Enchantas is in danger, as the foursome quickly learn once they are whisked back to it through a magic spell. An evil contingent is out to assassinate Mel, and it turns out that Alexis’ father was right—she is evil. In Enchantas, she is named Lexis, and she is actually Sally’s half-sister. Lexis has now declared herself empress and is trying to take over Enchantas.

Of course, the battle of good vs. evil ensues, but not without many fun twists. Favorite characters from the first book return, including Gusto, the magic carpet. There’s also Burf, a rabbit and a chef, and there are screaming vegetables, which are able to talk and even have families. I think my favorite scene in the book was actually when Becky protested that it was cruel to kill and eat the vegetables. I’m hoping in the third book for the screaming vegetables to revolt and emancipate themselves from being dinner.

Meanwhile, Lexis is trying to locate the queen fairy, who has gone missing. The fairies themselves are a dying race that cannot procreate without a queen, which leads to some loyalty changes as the storyline progresses. The queen fairy’s past is too complicated to get into here, but it will have dynamic repercussions for all the characters when it is brought to light.

I won’t give away any more of the plot, but I will say there is plenty of adventure, romance, and surprising twists in the storyline. Overall, I thought this sequel surpassed the first book, the plot being both tighter and darker, which made me feel more invested in the characters and the outcome. Most of all, I appreciate how LaBissoniere creates believable teenage characters with real problems and real motivations. I’m sure this book will be a hit with his fans and lead to him gaining new ones.

LaBissoniere is currently working on a third book in the series, Curse of Enchantas, which sounds like it will be darker yet based on this book’s cliffhanger ending.

For more information about Corey LaBissoniere and the Enchantas series, visit

Let’s Go Fishing

By Eric Dregni

If the anglers in your family are missing their favorite activity, or they need something to read in the ice shanty this winter, then Let’s Go Fishing: Fish Tales from the North Woods is the perfect gift. It’s just right for the coffee table, bathroom, camp or ice shanty because it is filled with fabulous photographs and illustrations, many of them nostalgic, like the image on the cover.

Practically every page has an illustration ranging from pictures of the scary-looking South American pacu dubbed “the ball cutter” for chomping at male swimmers’ unmentionables to vintage cartoons, smelt wrestling matches (who needs Jell-O?), historic photos of the big catches of old timers and beautiful artwork.

And then there’s the text. If you know Eric Dregni’s name, you already can imagine what kind of an odyssey he’ll take you on. In this column, I’ve previously reviewed his books Vikings in the Attic, about the Scandinavian heritage of the Upper Great Lakes region, and In Cod We Trust, about his family’s experiences living in Norway. This book is just as much fun and just as full of diversity as his previous ones.

The book begins with an introduction “Fishing throughout Time,” which gives a brief overview of fishing history. From tomb art depicting fishing in ancient Egypt to U.S. presidents who loved to fish, and from Jesus and his fishermen disciples to medieval Chinese fishermen, there’s no doubt that fishing is enjoyed worldwide. From there, the book takes readers on a pleasure ride through six chapters.

The first is on bait, bobbers and knucklebusters; the second on pranksters, monsters and female fish impersonators; and the third on some more extreme forms of fishing besides your typical sitting by a stream waiting for a bite—these range from ice fishing (I know, not so extreme for us Yoopers) to the uses of dynamite. The final three chapters take us to fish festivals, fish fries and fish boils, and finally, a whole chapter is dedicated to “The Art of the Fish,” which covers everything from giant fish statues to fish-tailed cars.

Let me say that I am no fisherman. I have not gone fishing since I was a kid, but even I enjoyed leisurely perusing this book. And what’s not to love? There are bobbers shaped like Snoopy and stories of mermaids alongside tall tales of Paul Bunyan. There’s fascinating trivia about historic figures like Daniel Boone and Al Capone, and there are sea serpents and biblical stories like Jonah and the Whale. There’s even a wedding held inside the mouth of the giant muskie statue in Hayward, Wisconsin.

Trust me, this book is a whale of a tale and then some. Let’s Go Fishing is published by University of Minnesota Press. For more information, visit

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