Customer Reviews: The Serpent's Ring (Relics of Mysticus Book 1)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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on October 3, 2012
Originally reviewed at: [...]
My son seems to have inherited the "avid reader" gene from me and we tend to like many of the same things in books. For example, he's a big fan of the Percy Jackson series and so am I. When "The Hunger Games" hit the big screen and all of his friends were going to see it, I told him I'd take him once he read the book. He did, and then read "Catching Fire" right after. So I am always on the lookout for books that I think might interest him. Later this month we are going to post a joint review of a Halloween themed book which I am super excited about. When Candace over at CBB Book Promotions told me about the upcoming tour for the MG book, "The Serpent's Ring," I signed on. One of the things that intrigued me about the book was that it is loosely based on a Norse mythological story. I know quite a bit about Greek and Roman mythology, but am not as fluent in Norse. I'm happy to say that "The Serpent's Ring" is an action packed tale filled with many characters and an engaging plot that I think will be a hit with the upper elementary and middle school set. Especially BOYS.

"The Serpent's Ring" is what I would call a "boy book." The narrator, 14 year old Evan, like Percy Jackson, is a character I think many boys can relate to. Evan is curious and looking for adventure. He's easily bored so he likes to keep busy. He's irritated by his older sister, but still worries about her safety. He is brave and wants to do the right thing.

The main characters, Evan and Claire, are 12 and 14 years old. But I have to say that to me they read as younger. I could see Evan as 10 or 12 and Claire as 13 or 14. I'm curious why the ages are bumped up in the book. And by the way, this book is very PG and age appropriate. There are hints of romance and a crush or two, but not much more than that and no adult language. There is action but nothing too graphic or violent.

The Serpent's Ring is your classic hero quest, a plot device that can be found in stories dating back to the epic tale 'The Gilgamesh' some 4500 years ago. We see quest's in everything from 'Jason and the Golden Fleece", to "The Wizard of Oz", to "The Lord of the Rings" and even "Star Wars". In "The Serpent's Ring" Evan and his sister Claire set off on their own adventure to retrieve a ring from a Norse god bent on destroying mankind by flooding the earth to rid it of evil. Along the way they meet many fantastic mythical creatures like imps, giants, trolls, dragons, mer -people, gigantic sea serpents, mythological gods, sirens and sea hags and immortal heroes. This book is also filled with stories of amazing powers, treasure filled underwater grottoes, viking ships and divining lockets.

Author H.B. Bolton goes into great detail to describe the places and things that Evan and Claire encounter on their quest, enough to sweep any young reader up into the mythical realm of Saagas. There are also many fun descriptions of the food the kids try (you know food is a pretty big deal to a 9 or 10 year old.) In fact one of my favorite parts of the book is the Magical Foods Recipe section found at the back. There you can find instructions for the "Woofout Bar" (which will make you talk like a dog for a short time after eating) and the "Fizzy Whizzle." There is also a handy glossary at the end that you can refer to when all the mythical beings and places start to get confusing. LOVE this!

Evan and Claire face many dangerous obstacles on their way to claim the serpent's ring from the Norse god of the sea Aegir and make some unlikely friends as well. I will say that "The Serpent's Ring" is very plot driven, and development of characters takes a definite back seat to story and action. This doesn't always sit well with me but may not be a problem for younger readers. And I do think this book is best suited for the older elementary and younger middle grade reader. I'm not sure that teens or adults would enjoy "The Serpent's Ring" as much.

That being said, it's an interesting start to a new series. Do Evan and Claire retrieve the serpent's ring and stop Aegir from destroying the planet? Do the siblings make it back home? You'll just have to read for yourself to find out:)

3.5/5 Stars
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on November 20, 2012
The Serpent's Ring is well written for middle-grade readers. The writing is simple with few embellishments, and the world of Asgard is beautifully wrought. Exploring the world with Evan and Claire was by far the most fun. I enjoyed meeting all the different and unique people living there. Personally, I would have liked to see more detailed exploration of the plot, maybe some more plot twists. For the reading level of the intended audience, however, it's understandable.

While, I would have also liked to see Evan and Claire figure out more things by themselves, in a world where the gods and goddesses play prevalent roles, I can see how they would want to meddle with the children's quest to retrieve the Serpent's Ring. It may even be more realistic, as two children would need divine intervention in order to stand a chance of outwitting a god. There are also some conversations that info dump rather than let readers figure things out along with the characters.

The story is well-paced and filled with a cast of charming characters. Young readers will be fascinated by the children's adventure and look up to Evan as a young hero who doesn't back down in his quest to right a wrong and save his world. I recommend this for upper elementary and lower middle-grade readers who enjoy fantasy reads.
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on June 21, 2014
I had the opportunity to read all three books in the Relics of Mysticus series by H.B. Bolton. This is a fun, adventure series targeted towards middle school aged children, but, with an adventure and quest like the one they embark upon and the fantasy of what they are learning, should appeal to all ages. If you enjoyed the subtle learning and fun adventure of the kids in Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, you will love this series! It takes you from mythology to mythology with a pair of siblings who will make you smile as you witness their interactions and maturation.

I found this first installment enchanting and well-paced for a middle grade readers. Evan & Claire's ages seem a little old for their personalities, but that brother/sister interaction is dead on. Asgard and the environment of the gods is well- described and magical as are the creatures and gods these two siblings encounter. While I would've liked to see this sibling duo be a little more powerful and pro-active, I found the divine intervention help they received much more believable as they are children going up against gods! I loved watching the development of Claire. She's sweet and compassionate and you see her mature bit by bit. Evan and his jokes and thoughts on things made me chuckle throughout the novel. This is a great start to a what I am sure is going to be a wonderful fantasy series! Not overly complicated in its plot, a little predictable for an adult, but a fun, rollicking ride that I could easily see as an animated series.
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on May 27, 2013
A review copy was provided for an honest review. The Serpent's Ring is an adventurous middle-grade novel with mythology woven into every turn. It's well told with imaginative and plentiful details that really help you visualize all the incredible places Evan and Claire venture to. The journey has a lot of little surprises along the way, and a bunch of fascinating characters to learn about. My favorite was Lazonia, a mermaid who helps Evan overcome his struggles and sees the hero in him before he does. The start of the story was the slowest part which builds up momentum to bigger and more dangerous things; snowballing into action scene after action scene from there on out. There are a lot of magical creatures the siblings encounter which includes dragons, imps, mermaids, giants, gods, and goddesses. I found each to be more interesting than the next, and I think anyone who read this will agree. Evan transforms from a boy seeking an adventure, to a boy scared, and finally to a boy who accepts his destiny and embraces it. Claire, Evan's older sister, is fun, humorous, and smart. I liked all those things about her but during some point in the novel she turns into a huge girly girl and fawns all over a guy she has just met--Sigurd. This wasn't a huge annoyance but at times you felt like rolling your eyes at her behavior. I very much enjoyed the entwined myths I thought they were creatively rendered. The Serpent's Ring is an exciting mythological ride that teens will just love.

When siblings Evan and Claire Jones visit the museum for "Family Fun Day" as insisted on by their parents they stumble across an enchanting artifact that leads them to a whole new world. This new and strange place is actually a portal called Sagaas that links all realms of the gods together allowing transport to each world. Evan accidentally lets the magical artifact bracelet called the Serpent's Ring fall into dangerous hands leaving him and his sister no choice but to journey through worlds to recover it. It's at the beginning of their quest that they meet an unexpected ally who insists they'll need all the help they can get to set things right again. Saving the world from destruction lies in the hands of two teenagers and their band of misfit creatures.

Now onto the negative, some sentences didn't flow right. At times it was hard to decipher who the speaker was and their was some plot holes. Aside from some weird moments that didn't add up, I had a great time reading this book. It took my mind to fun places, the story was simple enough to follow, and it was for the most part enjoyable. I think 9-year-olds+ will like reading The Serpent's Ring, there's a little bit of everything for everyone. Every chapter is marked with cute and adorable illustrations that bring the scenes to life in the simple yet finely detailed drawings. The cover is beautiful but the typography doesn't suit it. The Serpent's Ring generates interest in mythology while telling a story about brave kids who take responsibility for their actions and face their problems head-on. Their is a couple of important lessons that can be taken away from reading this and it'll defeat your boredom. The Serpent's Ring is a quick, spellbinding read that'll win you over.
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I was given this book by another blogger in anticipation of the sequel coming out. I figured I better get caught up with this first installment.

The Serpent's Ring by HB Bolton is a middle grade fantasy that reminds me at time of Percy Jackson and his adventures or The last of the really great whangdoodles by Julie Andrews. We join two siblings, Evan and Claire, as they find the magical Serpent's Ring and are swept away to another world by a couple of imps. Quickly, the ring is stolen, and the two siblings have to use their newfound powers to get it back. They meet some wonderful friends along the way who help them on their journey.

I really enjoyed reading this first installment. Bolton has a great imagination and she makes up some great new creatures as well as new recipes (that you can even make at the end) to entice the reader. The two siblings are very likeable as well as their companions that they meet along the way. The pacing is good, and we are whipped from place to place as they strive to find the ring.

Overall, this is a fun quick read, and I look forward to reading the sequel!
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on June 29, 2013
Total fantasy for young readers Great kid characters. Lots of adventure. This could be an epic kids movie in animation. The book was written so you could see all the amazing creatures. Good and bad well done
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on December 31, 2013
The idea is good enough and interesting, but the characters are a failure. None of them have any depth: they are lifeless and boring. The settings are described nicely and they're creative, but when the characters are flat, they cannot develop. The children learn nothing from the adventure. It ended up feeling pointless. I couldn't even really care that the world might end!

Note that I am an adult, but I usually have no problems enjoying YA. I've actually read quite a number of them because they are often interesting fantasy stories.
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on June 16, 2014
This book is a middle grades book, and recommended for those who enjoyed the Percy Jackson series.

This book is one crazy roller-coaster of a read! I don’t want to give anything away, so my review is going to be slightly different than usual. Indeed, Evan and Claire wander into a closed exhibit and start off a chain of events and a grand adventure. To give a quick summary of the book – one that I hope piques your interest for a young reader you know:

This book starts off like a typical family outing where the kids want to do their own thing and the parents want to be all family-y. It quickly turns into something similar to Night at the Museum, in combination with Harry Potter, as a Dobie-like creature, Dunkle, comes forth and requires the help of Evan and Claire to get the Serpent’s Ring back. The other thing that is Harry Potter-ish is the Mysticus Orb has been stored into various relics, just like Voldemort’s use of horcruxes, but the relics are used as a protection measure and each territory has one, and is the key to opening the various portals into Sagaas, which reminds me of the show Stargate where they travel to various planets via portals. Of course, they had to have a specific code to open a portal gate, but it’s the same concept. Once in Sagaas, there are many gods – so it’s akin to the scenes in Hercules where we see all of the gods – meets Little Mermaid. From there, it is a fantasy mash-up, including polar bears!, and packed full of adventure.

This is a stellar book, with a wide range and variety of characters, world building with a goal to achieve, but Evan and Claire get stuck on several side adventures in order to follow and track down the Serpent’s Ring.

I was surprised with the easy-going and almost likeable nature between the two siblings, Evan and Claire. At one point on the way to the museum, they get in a slight argument in the backseat of the car and Claire gives Evan a look, and that’s the end of it. They both put forth a concentrated effort to keep the peace and make their mother happy. I can say, being the oldest sibling (with three younger brothers), we are a wrangler of our siblings’ behavior, but that doesn’t always work out the way we want, so kudos to this sibling duo.

This book doesn’t have much character development due to the focus and plot development revolving around the adventure of the Serpent’s Ring, but there are little things here and there. However, this is off-set for me because there is more character development in the second book.

Bolton did a great job with the world building – we get all of the insight of what’s going on in Sagaas in the prologue where we first meet Dunkle. I really liked the prologue insight from Dunkle about Earth, and it’s made clear he’s been around since Pangea. In this world, Earth’s continents are formed as a result of the Avarice War. There was not much information about this, so I feel that some of this will come into play in a later book.

For me, it started getting complicated to keep up with all of the characters (and their motives!) – and the bits of world building, so I had to start making a list of important information. When I ended the book, there was Bolton’s own list! Also at the end, Bolton shared Magical Food Recipes for the unusual foods Evan and Claire encounter in Sagaas. Yummy!

I was surprised that even though there are many villains in this book, in the end, they rise beyond their anger and hatred to see reason and logic. They are kind, which is an unknown thing for a villain.

Bolton did base this novel loosely on Norse mythology.

I would recommend this book for ages 10-15ish, or those who are interested in Norse mythology.
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on May 26, 2014
I really loved this book - I am on the third book in the series now and I must say it reminds me of both Percy Jackson and Harry Potter - where the protagonists don't know they have powers and are thrust into this amazing new world and get to go on new adventures! The siblings lives seem so mundane until Claire finds the Serpents Ring and they have no idea what it means. Then along comes Dunkle who is awesomely clever and tricky to help them - although sometimes I think he gets them into more trouble than he helps LOL!

My favorite character is Claire - probably because she is more responsible but is also headstrong. Evan is a typical young man - does whatever he wants and throws caution to the wind :)

This book had me intrigued with the way it changed worlds so completely! We start out in the seemingly normal world of Claire and Evan and end up in an exciting underground water full of mermaids and mystery! The imagery that the author portrays is superb - the deep red color of the mermaids hair, the gorgeous underwater world, it all holds your attention till the very end. Then it all goes back to the normal world ... at least until the next adventure :)

All in all 5 stars because I love to read YA fiction and this series could most definitely become the next great teen series!

***I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***
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My Thoughts:
Right before I found out about this blog tour, I was talking to my husband about how I wished there was more books out there about Norse mythology and other lesser known deities, and then BAM! I seen this tour coming up! Wow! Was that divine intervention or what?

I loved the theme of this story right off! It is really interesting that there is another place where all the different mythos have an entrance there. Sagaas is somewhat like the meeting place of all the different mythologies and this is where Claire and Evan find themselves after unlocking a load of power on Earth.
I applauded the author for having the protagonists be a brother/sister team. Claire and Evan get on each other nerves but when it matters these two are there to protect each other from the dangers of this new adventure they find themselves on.
Claire is an young lady that seems like your typical boy crazy girl but then we see her through self come out as she discovers she gets a new power. Then we actually see her grow in maturity and understanding. I loved watching Claire help others and you could tell she is a caring person just by how the other characters related to her.
Evan. Oh my dear little Evan. He, on the other hand, was much different than Claire. Evan's immaturity shines through the pages as he goes off by himself into the house even though it was off limits. Its hard not to have doubt in Evan's ability to save the world but even Evan tries to grow a little in the story. A little. I found myself wanting to chastise Evan for not paying attention when their lives depending on it, instead he was too busy eating. I find he does that a lot too.

But besides me "mothering" Evan, he was a great character for boys in the 9 years old and up age group. He has a lot of jokes and I found myself laughing at some of the things he said.

I think The Serpent's Ring is a great story to get even your most reluctant readers into reading. It has adventure, wonderful characters, and a surprising ending that I loved too.
I give it four hearts!
received this book for a blog tour and my honest opinion of it.
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