“The Elf and the Amulet” is a charming fantasy-adventure story with the makings of a coming-of-age tale as our three main characters age throughout the series. Often, this book had me thinking of the journey in “The Hobbit” where it starts as just a fun adventure on something that sounds like a grand quest, only to show early on just how in over their heads the characters have become, and how much they underestimated the perils of their journey. Well, everyone seemed to underestimate the perils, because, after all, these are kids and the adults send them into the world with pretty much nothing.
I am trying to be better about reviewing middle grade books as my niece and nephew are getting to the age where they are voracious readers, and I want to be able to talk to them about their books. So here goes! “Keepers of the Flame” is the story of seven kids (all 13 years old) embarking on their birthright. This birthright states that all first born children are to become Keepers of the Flame: an order dedicated to protecting, serving, and bettering their communities by offering religious guidance. Over the decades, many people have gotten away from this birthright through taxes, or they join the order but aren’t true to their god—Jaoal. This has allowed something dark and vile to grow strong on the mountain where the young Keepers are trained, and by the time our main characters get there, the battle between good and evil is about to begin. There are so many important themes that are touched upon in this book that it’s definitely one of the ones I’ll be sharing with the young kids in my family!
I don’t really know where to begin with “The Adventures of Warren Steadmill”, which isn’t a bad thing, but rating a book that’s written as a type of parody to classic folktales is just hard! Rosenberg has a distinct style of witty and sarcastic writing that reminds me a great deal of the late Sir Terry Pratchett, even down to the occasional footnote. Everything is whimsical, and silly, and also vaguely serious with some rather dark undertones. But Warren’s tale is a simple one: one of a family growing closer, finding purpose in life, and growing up. Warren falls for a girl and to impress her, he gives up his life of unproductive luxury to become a table maker and win his fair lady’s adoration. But, of course, none of that really works out for him and Warren, poor, sweet, innocent and often dumb, Warren, is left to bumble through an adventure he barely understands that will eventually leave him a hero. Kind of?
“The Gorgon Bride” is a whimsical story about a whirlwind romance and trying to discover if that romance is the real deal, or just a passing fling. As someone who adores Greek Mythology, I was instantly intrigued by this book, and for the most part, the author does a nice job of touching upon a great number of myths and portrays the Greek gods well enough to where you don’t necessarily need to know all the stories for the various people who make cameo’s in the book, but it certainly does help. The reader follows Alex, though, a modern day man who finds himself suddenly dead, the Greek gods are suddenly back from their centuries long hiatus, and that Athena has taken an interest in Alex in particular. Why Alex? That’s never really explained….
“The Pariah Child and the Ever-Giving Stone” is the tale of young Sarafina (or Sarah to her friends) whose imaginary fairy friends aren’t all that imaginary, despite her strict mother’s best wishes. Threatened by her mother to abandon her fantasies of mythical talking friends or she’d be sent to an asylum, Sarah does her best to comply, until she is attacked by a not so ordinary pack of wolves. The “imaginary” friends she thought she banished have returned, begging for Sarah to help them save their world by returning something vital to it, or more nasty creatures will come to Sarah’s world, and destroy the magical place known as Lyrica. Sarah doesn’t fit in back home, and yet these magical creatures immediately offer her acceptance. Spurned by her small town, Sarah agrees to the task they have placed at her feet (she’s thirteen, it’s a lot of pressure for a young kid) and travels to Lyrica, not knowing anything about the place, its inhabitants, how it’s dying, or what she can do about it. She’s not entirely alone though, with the help of a few friends (not all magical), Sarah decides she’s not going to be afraid anymore, that she wants to help, at any cost. Oh man, there is so much in this book! Magical creatures of every kind, a dying world, a child of prophecy, a sweet coming-of-age story, an epic quest, and lots of action and adventure. This story was quite the roller-coaster, and I loved parts of it, but I think it was also trying to pack too much into just under 300 hundred pages of book.
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