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The Familiars

1 rating: 1.0
A book by Adam Jay Epstein

Starred Review. Gr 4-7–This series opener won't disappoint. Escaping from a bounty hunter, a streetwise cat becomes the familiar of a boy magician-in-training. Almost before Aldwyn gets to know his new surroundings, Jack, his sister, and a … see full wiki

Author: Adam Jay Epstein
Genre: Children's Books
Publisher: HarperCollins
1 review about The Familiars

THERE'S NOTHING TERRIBLY WRONG WITH THIS BOOK BUT ...

  • Aug 7, 2010
Rating:
+1
The Familiars reads like it was put together with a cookie cutter -take one piece from this story, another from a second tale, etc., etc., until you have a booklength adventure. It is second hand and stale, not fresh like children's stories should be. The book tells the story of three animals who are familiars to wizards in training. Aldwyn is a kitten, Gilbert a tree frog, and Skylar a blue jay. When their young masters are kidnapped by an evil queen, they travel to free them. On the way, they confront menace after menace and in the process, bond as a threesome. It's familiar stuff -the Fellowship of the Rings, Luke Skywalker, C3PO and R2D2, the band of children crusading in Narnia. But it's flaccid. Aldwyn has the fullest fleshed personality (which is no surprise since the story is told from his vantage point). The know-it-all blue jay Skylar is a caricature and Gilbert little more than comic relief, though he redeems himself in the climactic battle. Aldwyn has a secret: familiars have their own special magical powers but Aldwyn doesn't have any so he must fake it. When the final battle comes, though, it turns out -no surprise--that plucky little Adlwyn has his own power: he's a teleport. With the aid of his newfound powers, he saves his master from death.

There's nothing terribly wrong with The Familiars. It just isn't very good. Its elements have all been used before, in stories whose plots are more compelling, whose characterization is deeper and truer, and in prose that is both more forceful and much more graceful.

(The Familiars has been optioned for film by Sam Raimy and Sony Animation.)

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