“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.
This seems to be a hallmark of a lot of MG books; a vague prophecy is shared and then adults are told a group of children are the only ones capable of fulfilling a quest. No one questions this because of the person who gives the proclamation, so no one feels like they have a choice in the matter. Except they kind of do. Just because Nita, Chassy, and Andrev are the ones who need to recover an amulet for a wizard, it doesn’t mean their parents can’t accompany them, or give them money or something so they can buy food or lodgings along the way. But, as that seems to be the trope of MG, I’ll let it go, especially as with how the adventure reads, and how the characters interact with one another, kids in middle-school and even elementary school would enjoy the journey the author takes her readers on. The writing is easy to follow, and none of the characters are overly complex to where a younger reader would overlook certain nuances. The task and journey are straight forward: recover the amulet and deliver it to its final destination. While there is action in the form of bandit ambushes and raids, none of the violence, language, or even the mild romance, has any mature content to it, so younger readers shouldn’t find it overly intense.
Another element that makes this book good for a Middle Grade audiences, more-so than YA, is how the magic and world building is presented. A lot of the world-building is only present as necessary. So, while, for me as an older reader, it came off feeling as if certain elements that get introduce late are just convenient ways to avoid plot holes, for a younger reader, this may come as more of a fun twist. Either way, it’s just something to consider when you're debating which story, with a classic journey vibe, to read next.
In fact, what’s keeping me from rating this book higher, as I do think it could be a lot of fun for younger readers, as the journey is pretty fast paced and all the characters feel distinct from one another, is that I simply did not like Nita. Which is odd, because I normally love all no-nonsense, tough, female characters. But her aggression and general mean attitude just had her being rather unlikeable for me, especially as I considered if I’d want a young reader to think some of her reactions, especially towards her friends and family, was an appropriate response—which it isn’t. I was also getting a bit frustrated towards the end because I didn’t feel as if the bigger prophecy was addressed. I never got the sense that things were starting to become clear and the three characters were moving towards their foretold path. Not a great deal was accomplished and then the story just kind of … ends with several characters motivations for doing the things they did left unclear, potentially to be answered at a later time. There will be a sequel, which is great as so much still needs to be addressed—maybe too much?
So while I do like this book for a younger audience, I didn’t love it and I am still left a bit confused as to what, exactly, is supposed to happen now/next, or why, which is why this is a 3 star for me. Still, if you are looking for a fun, innocent, and fast paced read for a younger reader, give “The Elf and the Amulet” a go! And thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for review.
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