Memories of Gulliver’s Travels and Narnia bubble up as I enjoy this fast-action middle-grade novel of a lonely young man discovering his heritage. An absent mother and a father who seems almost too busy to care leave Alexander Drake feeling awkward and lonely around his peers, but now he’s going to spend some time at his beloved grandmother’s house while Dad travels again. There Alexander finds a locked drawer, a mysterious key, and a map, all of which lead the lonely boy through the forest to Azra’s Pith. There he learns that “being different can make one extraordinary,” a pleasing state of affairs indeed.
The scenery of Azra’s Pith is pleasingly evocative, and the characters are enjoyably imaginative, leading to amusing dialog and nicely boy-centric contemplation. From talking frogs to threatening birds, friend and foe combine to make Alexander’s a classic quest, with all the classic temptations to rest and quit. But the brave team presses on, and the journey’s lessons are wise.
The story draws to an enjoyable conclusion, just as a new tale begins, making this a good standalone novel for middle-grade readers, especially those hard-to-reach boys, with the definite promise of more.
Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this novel to accompany the author’s visit to my blog.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
"I was caught up in the story and Alexander's journey." -My Reading Table
"This would be a great book to read to younger readers. There are many opportunities for characterization." -Book Worm Lisa
"Alexander meets many creatures on his journey, some good, some not. They assist or hinder as the case may be but Alexander pushes on no matter the issue to be faced. Yes, he is afraid and yes, he is hungry but he has a goal in sight and will not deviate from it. A great story for camping! A great read-to-the youngun's story!" -Cheryl's Book Nook