Adventurers Wanted: Albrek’s Tomb by M. L. Forman
Alex Taylor joins his third adventure to find the long-lost dwarf Albrek and his magical ring that helped the dwarves find land rich in minerals to mine. Alex now has a staff and is no longer an apprentice, but has full wizard status. But the group of adventurers is in for variety of trials and obstacles before they discover what happened to Albrek and his final resting place.
Alex has matured and grown more confident in his abilities, yet still seems doubtful when he hears about his potential. The adventure and excitement are even greater in this third and final installment in the Adventurer’s Wanted trilogy. Though, there seems to be endless stories to tell, so I hope Forman continues to write more in exceptional fantasy world. His worldbuilding and unique characters are fascinating and engaging. A thrilling, quest-based fantasy – this world has its share of evil, but the majority of characters uphold honor and charity above greed and material wealth. Which is funny considering that on the surface an adventurers’ career goal seems to be accumulating wealth. I highly recommend this light-hearted, epic fantasy trilogy to readers of all ages.
Adventurers Wanted: The Horn of Moran by M.L. Forman
Young wizard-in-training Alex Taylor is asked to join a second adventure with some familiar friends and new. The kingdom of Norsland is threatened by war when the current king is challenged for the throne. The only way to prove the rightful heir to the throne is the Horn of Moran, which can only be used by the true king. But the horn has been lost. So, Alex and his small band of adventurers must journey through an enchanted forest and frozen wastelands, face a horde of goblins, and brave the mysterious guardians of the Tower of the Moon to find the legendary horn and prove the rightful heir.
The second novel in the Adventurers Wanted trilogy, The Horn of Moran follows Alex on another quest in a foreign land of magic and fantastic creatures. Friends from Alex’s previous adventure are joined by a couple new adventurers, Val being the most mysterious and a new elf friend who bonds quickly with Alex. Alex is a humble yet confident young man, growing in his magical powers and is always open to learning and doing the right thing. He is incredibly giving and honest. And while some of the characters the adventurers meet along the way are evil, the generous and selfless races of magical creatures put the human characters to shame. The morality of good versus evil is evident and wholesomeness makes for an easy recommendation for any young reader.
Though marketed for middle readers, the fun, fast-paced adventure will appeal to all ages – even adults. This quest-based fantasy is ripe with intriguing characters and an exciting, action-packed story. I enjoyed this installment just as much as the first. Mystery, suspense, magic, and light-hearted humor makes The Horn of Moran impossible to resist.
Ambush by Obert Skye
Beck, Kate, and Wyatt decide to dispose of the last remaining dragon egg stone where no one can reach it. And as hard as it is, Beck lets the stone go. But the plants in the town of Kingsplot don’t seem happy. Mushrooms cause havoc in a museum and a cactus attacks Beck in the middle of the night, yet somehow Beck gets blamed for it all. The Kingsplot’s residents seem to have forgotten the dragon attacks and find it easier to get angry at Beck, save for the Sheriff who must constantly write everything down to remember. Beck’s father is in the hospital, still suffering from a mental breakdown. And after a visit with his father, Beck’s mind begins to cloud with the Pillage curse once again.
This is the third and final installment in Skye’s Pillagy series. Beck’s quick wit and humor are the highlight of this quirky fantasy trilogy. He is constantly attacked by plants and then blamed for the outcome by adults, but instead of getting angry or throwing a fit – he turns to sarcasm and his endless patience. Even when under the lure of the dark curse, Beck is still a sympathetic character.
While it’s obvious the final egg will hatch, the anticipation and suspense are fantastically built up to a climactic, final showdown. I love this creative adventure series. And its satisfying conclusion did not disappoint. Fantasy fans of all ages should enjoy this incredible adventure full of pillaging dragons, an enormous manor with endless secret passages and hidden rooms, and eccentric characters that always amuse.
Castle of Shadows by Ellen Renner
Five years ago, the Queen of Quale disappeared without a word. Princess Charlie is now eleven, but treated poorly by the castle staff in the wake of the King’s failing mental health. And the country seems to be on the brink of war and revolution. But when Charlie discovers a letter written by her mother hidden in a book, she finally has a clue to her disappearance. Though, Charlie is unsure who to trust in the castle full secretive and deceptive individuals, save Tobias, the stepson of a thief.
Charlie is a rambunctious, tomboy with little training as a princess. She and Tobias fight like sister and brother, yet the two have a great chemistry and hidden respect for each other. The advanced reader copy I received was for the US version, but contained the British spelling of many words, which if not changed, may be distracting to some. Older children here in the US may also find it hard to side with the monarchy side of politics, while the princess is fearful of the “Republicans.” But Charlie is easy to love. Renner’s characters are fantastically eccentric and engaging. And the adventure and suspense make for a fun and exciting read for all ages. There are still questions left unanswered at the end that will leave readers eager for a sequel.
Castle of Shadows releases from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on March 20, 2012.
The Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh
In the mid 1300’s, young orphan Will is a servant for monks at Crowfield Abbey in England. Something is awakening underneath the abbey, causing a devastating collapse of the tower. While the monks rush to repair the abbey, Will searches for a way to rid them of a monstrous creature that haunts the abbey and their dreams.
Following the events in The Crowfield Curse, Will has learned that he has the gift of magical sight, able to see the magical world when normal humans cannot. The exiled fay Shadlok is now bound to Will as his sworn protector. And Brother Snail and the hobgoblin Brother Walter are Will’s only other friends and confidants.
Just as dark and mysterious as its predecessor, The Crowfield Demon is fast-paced and full of adventure. With vivid characters, a compelling story, and plenty of magic, this sequel is completely enchanting. Fantasy fans of all ages will enjoy this highly entertaining story.
The Crowfield Demon releases from The Chicken House (Scholastic) on February 1, 2012.