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The Dark Shadow of Spring (The Young Sorcerers Guild - Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 239 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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|Age Level: 11 - 16|
|Grade Level: 7 - 12|
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Here, we have a plot that feels a lot like a streamlined version of Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series. The evil Shadow Wraith was imprisoned eons ago behind 12 magical seals, but one of them may be giving way, allowing the Wraith's dark influence to enter our world, (which feels vaguely medieval). The Young Sorcerers Guild must figure out what's going on and then use guile, magic, and derring do to reinforce the seal.
For this perfectly fine plot to work it seems to me you need appealing heroes, a decent magic system, a bit of humor, lots of action/adventure, a few good supporting characters, and maybe some side quests or incidental drama. Well, you get all of that here.
Our primary hero, and the sort of "chosen one", is Alex, who is resourceful, good-humored, reliable, and the natural leader of the Young Sorcerer's Guild. Then we get Alex's little sister, the youngest and newest member of this unofficial gang, who has a bit of younger-sister attitude and is very funny without introducing any of that tired sibling rivalry stuff into the tale. She's more of a snarky sidekick. We get a number of other young sorcerers whose backstories I didn't find all that compelling. But, the good part is that when they are all together their cross-talk is amusing and full of inside jokes and needling. As a gang they work well as an ensemble and I didn't really care who was who since they all fit together so well. (There is one scene at an Inn in which they eat french fries off of each other plates as they discuss their next move against the Shadow Wraith, and it is a wonderful example of careful story structure, and subtly humorous dialogue writing.)
With that, everything falls into place. The nature of magic in this world is elemental and idiosyncratic. Powers and abilities arise in somewhat haphazard fashion, and always just in the nick of time plot-wise, but that's fine in a middle grade tale. At least it's not just a bunch of wand waving. There's an elegant grumpy dragon, and astral projection, and lots of other diverting goodies. The least necessary element is the Guild's conflict with a sneaky bunch of opposing young sorcerer bullies, but I suppose bullies of some sort are required in all middle grade books. There's also a touch of Alex and Victoria the Centaur puppy crushing, which was welcome and nicely and lightly done.
So, all in all this was a satisfying and entertaining read with clever twists, engaging characters, and a consistent tone and atmosphere. A nice find.
(Please note that I found this book a while ago while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. It is currently a kindleunlimited choice. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
I highly recommend adding this book to your library.