Riley starts a new series here with a big whump – horrible, clawed creatures exploding out of the ground in Washington DC and a young hero-in-the-making witnessing it all and then doing something about it.
Similar in broad description to the Harry Potter & Percy Jackson vein of adventure stories for kids, this one comes with a harder edge and a wildly inventive storyline. In most stories of this kind, the adults are often clueless or deceptive jerks while the kids are brave, clever heroes. The interesting thing here is that both kids and adults are equally clever, brave, and manipulative which creates an interesting dynamic. Each side score points, but each side is culpable for what happens.
There is equal time given to male and female heroes which means an appeal to both boys and girls.
The four (or seven?) branches of magic described here, as well as how they were discovered, provides a new approach to the genre. Sure, there are nods to Camp HalfBlood and Hogwarts, but also veins reminiscent of Stephen King’s Firestarter and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders series, as well as Merlin and Arthur and even a little bit of James Rollins. What pulls the story together, though, are the kid characters – tough, salty, vulnerable, and oh-so-powerful, they save the day and, most likely, the future. This could be the hit of the summer, folks…
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Published By: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing – Aladdin
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy