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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson

Hi there!

Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers. Time to explore another reading adventure through the eyes of yours truly...are you ready? Are you sure? Best be sure because today’s review is of the first book in a great children’s series that recently saw a bookish birthday as book two was released to a store shelf near you. What’s more, book three on the way (soon but not soon enough!) so if you haven’t been properly introduced yet…please, allow me. Today’s book of choice is…

Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson

From the publisher…

Is the kingdom's fate in the hands of an orphan cat?

Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn's always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so—and Aldwyn is happy to play along.

He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert—that he's the powerful cat he claims to be.

Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia.

On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure—an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor—is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship.

I had the pleasure of working with these gentlemen last year as this book made its way through the blogosphere on a special Halloween themed tour (check the link to see the special spooky message that was made just for my (YOU) readers!) and if I do say so myself, it was A LOT of fun. Same can be said for the book itself, though my reading adventure was delayed a bit….okay, a lot, but reading schedules, they fill up fast! Anywho, once I started reading this one, I said to myself….self…how could you let this one sit SO LONG without reading it?! Do you like making yourself miss fantastic tales of adventure, danger, magic, and animal friends? Huh? Do you? What can I say…I’m my own worst critic…but you know that little voice was right, and trust me when I say…DON’T make the same mistake!

The story in brief…..Aldwyn lands in a pickle (not literally) and is forced into hiding when the Hunter (a big, dark, and SCARY man…~shudders~) is called out to capture him. While trying to escape, he ducks into a pet shop that would prove anything but mundane and set him on the path of a destiny he knew not of. From humble upbringings to the formation of a potential family (something he has longed for), Aldwyn learns that sometimes you can depend on others to be there for you and his new found friends are just the group to illustrate that lesson. Stormy waters are definitely ahead as his new found paradise is turned upside down. Will they be able to navigate the trials ahead? What of the secrets each of them hold? All will be revealed…in time…that is if they can stop it from ending them first!

A tale of friendship, family, and all the things money CAN’T buy…regardless of what you desire. I loved the main characters from the tips of their wings to their furry tails and even their bulgy little eyes. The roles each were given were well filled and the human like qualities they were granted matched well with the storyline created. I couldn’t help making an observation though. It may be something that all books featuring wizardry in any fashion suffer from thanks to a particular series garnering A LOT of attention (~whispers~ Harry Potter…in case you didn’t know which one I meant… ^_^), but our wizarding friends though furry, feathery and slimy (sorry about that Gilbert), carry some distinctive character traits of the infamous human trio. How so? Well, not to put too fine a point on it but if they were to trade places, Aldwyn would be sporting round glasses, Skylar would have frizzy hair, and Gilbert would be one of many siblings (oh wait, he already is…) and a red head.

Yep, it’s not a hard stretch to make the association…HOWEVER, despite the similarities seen and the risky adventure they are embarking on, the story itself stands on its own two feet….or legs….or four paws…no support necessary (except from readers like you and me). I can see a younger reader getting behind this story as the fascination with animals usually hits at an early age. I can see teen readers looking for a new adventure, still filled with magic and wonder but in another form, reaching for this curious tale. I can certainly see adult readers (*raises hand*) reaching for this series because really….you are never too old for animal stories filled with magic, adventure, and heart.

All in all, a find addition to the world of Children’s Literature; if you haven’t picked this one up yet, I kindly suggest you do….that way you’ll be on track to read book two, out now (…and review coming soon right here) and book three upon its release. Trust me, you won’t regret it…and if you do, I’m sure Skylar will help you with a spell to extract your revenge.

Review copy courtesy of authors Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, as well as the kind folks at HarperCollins Children’s Books. (THANKS TO ONE AND ALL!) For more information about this series, feel free to check out the official website for more adventure, including the chance to find out which familiar would be a good match for you! (Mine was a raven… “…a Protector of the Land.” How’s about you?) To find out more about the authors, follow along on Twitter. If you seek more information about the publisher, visit them online or follow along on Twitter. Oh and I almost forgot….the series? It’s gonna hit the big screen one day….yep, another book gem turned box office gold. (Congrats guys!)

Until next time…happy reading!


Kevin McGill said...

What's the age range for this book?

....Petty Witter said...

A great review, our niece actually prefers this to Harry Potter, not that you can really compare the two. I wonder if she realises another book is available.

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