Book & Audio Review: Who Let the Gods Out?

Making up for lost time…two in one week!

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Who Let the Gods Out?
by Maz Evans, narrated by the author
6 CDs, 7.5 Hours

who let the gods out hcElliot Hooper is an ordinary kid with some extraordinary problems.  It all started when he wished upon a star to change his life.  Well, no…it all started during a horrible day at school when he fell asleep at his desk and his odious teacher Boil tried to force the headmaster, Call-Me Graham, to expel him.  Elliot does have several reasons for losing sleep–his Mom is ill, and he’s trying to hold both of them together while trying to save the farm that’s been in his family for generations, there’s a Scary Letter with a deadline hanging above his head–but it would do no good to tell the school that.  It’s enough that their suspicious neighbor, Mrs. Porshley-Plum has been prowling about.  If any of them figured out that Elliot is taking care of everything, they would just send him away and he’d lose the farm and Mom.  So Elliot wishes.

Elsewhere, Virgo is trying to show the other constellations that even though she’s the youngest by several thousand years, she can still be responsible.  And she sets off to prove it by bolting during a confrontational meeting and taking over a mission that none of the other constellations want.  So she didn’t get the details.  So she doesn’t know anything about the mortal realm.  So she doesn’t know how to maneuver her constellation form well.  So what–she can still do it!

Elliot and Virgo come together when Virgo crash-lands through Elliot’s cowshed and into a pile of manure.  After Virgo realizes that Bessie is not a Bovinor but a cow, and Elliot is actually the person representative of Earths main life-form, the two form a reluctant partnership.  It takes a bit of time for Virgo to accept Elliot’s help, but once Elliot is convinced that Virgo isn’t just a strange girl, but instead an immortal with a mission, he thinks they can help each other.  And if Elliot can help with her mission, then Virgo will help save the farm.

But things don’t work out quite the way they’re planned when Virgo and Elliot botch the mission and release Thanatos, the evil Daemon of Death.  Suddenly Elliot’s farm is full of Virgo’s family–Gods like chubby Zeus and his noble high horse Pegasus, Hermes, who is obsessed with social media, and Hestia, who starts immediately renovating and redecorating .  But it’s good that the gods have come to help, because Thanatos has discovered that Elliot is the one person who might be able to cause his downfall…and he’s on the hunt.

who let the gods out audioThe audio for Who Let the Gods Out? is narrated by the author.  It’s always an enjoyable experience to listen to an author read their own work; obviously, they already know the characters inside and out.  This book is no exception; it’s a great narration.  I love all the various accents for the characters. I couldn’t tell you which type of English accent they’re supposed to be, but I can tell that they’re all different!  And the humor of the situation and the characters definitely comes out in the reading.  What’s not to love?

Who Let the Gods Out? is both heartwarming and hysterical.  I love the silly names for the characters in the mortal realm, as well as Elliot’s nicknames for some of the more outrageous individuals.  (It’s definitely reminiscent of Roald Dahl.)  The gods are over-the-top funny.  Each god and goddess (as well as the non-god immortals) take their mythological background into account, but give it a modern and unexpected twist.  And they are funny!  Elliot’s care of his mother and his desire to save her and the farm make him a admirable character, even when he lets his impatience get in the way.  Virgo is clueless and a bit rude, but her heart is in the right place.

I would recommend Who Let the Gods Out? to readers who enjoy a little humor (well, a lot of humor) with their adventure and mythology.  If you like the Goddess Girls, Beasts of Olympus or the Myth-o-Mania series, you’ll definitely like this book as well.  Some listen-alikes are Thor’s Wedding Day, Hatched, and Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures.  While the audio is enjoyable for all ages, the book is probably best for fourth through seventh grade readers.

Who Let the Gods Out? is the first book in a trilogy, so I’m hoping the others will be just as much fun to read.  They’ve been published in the UK, but the next book–Simply the Quest is coming out in the US in 2019.

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So there you have it!  Another great audio book to listen to.  Percy Jackson fans–you should try this one.  It’s an adventure, and an interesting take on characters you already know.  Not Percy, of course, but the gods and goddesses in his family tree.

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book or audio in our library, just ask one of our librarians.  We love to help you find your best book!




Book & Audio Review: A Possiblity of Whales

It’s been awhile since our last audio review.  There’s been many audios listened to, just not the time to review them.  But I have a New Years resolution–at least one 5 Books and one Audio review each month…we’ll see how that goes, since it seems I’m starting in February.

So now…time to go on a whale watch!  (Literally.  Or, not literally…but in a literal and auditory kind of sense.)

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A Possibility of Whales
by Karen Rivers, narrated by Stina Nielsen
7 CDs, 8.25 hours

possibility of whalesNat has always been her own person.  Living with her father, the famous actor XAN GALLAGHER, has taught her to be self-reliant.  Moving with him every year or so to various movie locations has taught her the importance of people and places, not things.  And growing up without a mother…well, that’s just left her wondering about the woman who named her and left.  Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher knows her mother must have loved whales, because her middle name is French for whale, and it’s the heart of her name.  But what kind of mother would love those things, but not a newborn?  What kind of mother would  just up and leave her kid?  Nat is suddenly questioning everything about her mother, and her life.

Starting over with her dad, living in a tiny trailer in Sooke, a small town in British Colombia, Canada is a big difference from the gigantic house they left behind in San Francisco.  It’s a good move for Nat though, getting her and XAN GALLAGHER away from the paparazzi, even if it means leaving her best friend Solly behind.  Her best friend who didn’t act much like a best friend in the end.  But postcard updates might mend their fractured friendship, and now she may have a new friend–Harry.  But Harry has troubles of his own, and just because Nat wants to be his friend, it doesn’t mean he wants to be hers.  Solly is growing up, and Harry is growing away.  Nat wants things to stay…not the same, but she doesn’t want them all leaving her behind.

Talking to Birdy (Mom), a sort of substitute-mom-figure-adopted-by-way-of-a-prank-call on her found (stolen?) cellphone phone helps.  Having Orcas come right up to her on French Beach is life changing, and helps–a lot. Getting a break from the paparazzi gives her breathing space.  Even her hobby of collecting words from other languages to explain things that can’t be explained in English makes explaining things that happen easier.  But growing up happens, even when you might not want it to happen; and Nat’s questions and experiences lead her on a journey of self-discovery that will change her life forever.

possibilty of whales audioThe audio for A Possibility of Whales is wonderful…I loved the narrator’s voice.  She did a great job with all the voices, from Nat and Harry to Solly (who I pictured throwing her hair over her shoulder every time she spoke) to Birdy and Nat’s famous dad, XAN GALLAGHER.  (I have to mention, I knew from the audio book reading that XAN GALLAGHER had to have been capitalized throughout the book every time it appeared–and I was right!)  With all the flashbacks, the narration could have been confusing, but it wasn’t.  It was perfect.

I loved this story so much!  It’s a bit Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, mixed with Counting by Sevens with a bit of Beyond the Bright Sea thrown in.  Told in two parts–Canada and Mexico–with many flashbacks to San Francisco interspersed, this story goes back and forth in time.  Some chapters are also told from Harry’s perspective, and Harry has just as interesting a story as Nat.  And I haven’t even mentioned anything that happens in the second half of the book!  There’s a vacation in Mexico, more whales, a birthday, and lots more.

This is a great story about friendship, families and growing up.  Nat is turning thirteen and is in seventh grade; Harry knows he’s a boy, even if he was born a girl.  Both of them are looking for answers about who they are.  There are funny moments, heartfelt moments, and lots of family love for both characters.   I would recommend this to upper elementary and middle school readers.  Some read-alikes are Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, The Higher Power of Lucky, My Sister Sif, George, and books by Cynthia Lord.

Karen Rivers is the author of Love, Ish, The Girl in the Well is Me and The Encyclopedia of Me, along with multiple teen and adult books.  Stina Nielsen also narrated The Lemonade War series and the Princess Posey series.

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So if you like whales as much as Nat, you’ll love this book.  If you like a little adventure, mixed with a new friendship, a famous father and a little mystery about what happened between Nat and Solly, you’ll love this book.  Just try it!  Let me know what you think.

As always, if you need help locating any of the books mentioned here, or if you just want some book suggestions, ask one of our librarians.  We’re here to match you with a book you’ll love!

Happy Reading!

Book and Audio Review: The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

What could be better than a lot of chocolate, a little magic, and some secret agents?

Not much…

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The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop
By Kate Saunders, Read by Jayne Entwistle
6 CDs, 6 hours, 52 minutes

whizz pop chocolate shopOz and Lily Spoffard grew up in a tiny house in Washford Common in London.  Even though the family was cramped, they loved it.  But with a new baby on the way, the twins know that they will have even less space.  But that’s when an unexpected letter from a solicitor in London comes… Their father has apparently inherited a mysterious large house on Skittle Street from his great-uncle on the other side of London.  The solution to all their problems?  Maybe…

They go to visit the house and discover that not only is it a house, but it’s a house with a chocolate shop and chocolate-making laboratory on the first floor!  Although it’s been deserted for more than fifty years, everything is just a little dusty, and the water and electricity are in perfect order.   It even still smells like chocolate!

Oz is reluctant to leave his violin tutor, but Lily can’t wait to get away from her tutor; neither of them will really miss their school.  So arrangements are made for new lessons, and the Spoffards move in.

The first person they meet in their new house is a very grumpy cat named Demerara who tells them that their uncles didn’t only make chocolate, they made magic chocolate.  And now, there’s someone after the recipes.  Luckily, Demerara is an agent for SMU–The Secret Ministry for the Unexplained.  She has the contacts to get Oz, Lily and their new friend Caydon some training to deal with the spies who are now lurking around their house and trying to find some magical chocolate molds.

But even with training, will three kids, a talking cat, a ghostly elephant and a cheeky rat be able to topple the forces of evil trying to take over the world?

whizz pop chocolate shop audioThe audio for The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop is great fun.  I love the British narrator, who manages to make everyone sound different.  (She also does a great American accent!)  The pacing is excellent.  The characters really come to life while you’re listening.

This is a great book to listen to as a family, maybe on a long car trip this summer?  The book is written for third through sixth grades, but the story can be enjoyed by all ages.  There are a couple scary spots in the story–but not too scary–so you can reassure younger listeners that everything will turn out okay.

Some read-alikes include The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart, Bliss, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Candy Shop War.

dragon with the chocolate heart bliss charlie and the chocolate factory candy shop war

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So if you like magical chocolate, talking cats, and a mystery that spans four generations, try this book.  You’ll like it!

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book, ask one of our librarians.  We love to help!

Happy Reading!


Book & Audio Review: The Great Treehouse War

Have you ever wanted to have your own treehouse?  In this book, Winnie had never really thought about it.  But once she had the absolutely most perfect treehouse, in the biggest tree in the state, it was hers, and hers alone.  Or was it..?

Be careful what you wish for…

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great treehouse warThe Great Treehouse War
By Lisa Graff, Read by Ariana Delawari with a Full Cast
4 CDs; 4 hours, 11 minutes

Winnie life was pretty normal right up until the last day of fourth grade.  Sure, her parents were fighting a lot, and didn’t really listen to each other, but other kids had problems too, right?  Then, on the last day of school, her parents sat her down on the x marked in the exact center of the sofa and sat on either side of her to tell her they were getting a divorce.  But both her parents assured her that they still loved her, and that splitting Winnie’s time equally between them was important.

So they sold the house Winnie had grown up in (through fourth grade), and each bought the only two houses on Circle Road, where the two backyards met, not far from Uncle Huck…her mother’s brother and her father’s best friend.  Between the backyards was a giant linden tree, not on either parents’ property.  It was perfect for them–Winnie (and her cat Buttons) could spend Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays with her mom;  Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays with her dad, and every Wednesday, she and Buttons would live by themselves in the treehouse designed and built by Uncle Huck.  Her parents thought it was perfect.  Winnie wasn’t so sure.

But at first it didn’t seem too bad.  Winnie loved her round treehouse, with its own kitchen and living room, bathroom and loft.  And she really enjoyed having a day to herself, with just Buttons for company.  Her parents were even being pretty cool with the equal time thing.

But then Winnie’s mom realized that Winnie would be celebrating Thanksgiving with her father.  So she decided to create another celebration to make up for no Thanksgiving; Flag Day.  Winnie was more confused than happy about the over-the-top celebration, but told her mother it was fun.  And then her dad saw them out in their yard from his back window; so he got into the act with World UFO Day.  Suddenly, both her parents started trying to outdo each other with daily parties, events and field trips when they had Winnie, to make up for each celebration she got to spend with the other.   From International Tongue Twister Day to Ice Cream Sandwich Day to Flossing Day to Cow Appreciation Day to Peach Day, the celebrations started growing and growing and growing…and getting totally out of hand.

Winnie’s frustration also started growing.  As both parents spend the whole afternoon and evening celebrating weird holidays with her on “their” days, Winnie finds less and less time to do her homework, until she was spending Wednesday doing all her homework as well as catching up with her sleep.   It didn’t work as well as she thought, since by February she was falling asleep at her desk during school.  But the last straw was when Mr. B, her teacher, told her she was in danger of flunking fifth grade.

Or no, the real last straw was when her father decided that she was going to spend the summer with him collecting animal feces for examination in the desert, and her mother said that she would then take over all the Wednesdays until summer, to equal out Winnie’s time.  No. Way.  Winnie was not going to lose her only peaceful day.  It was time to declare war!

Winnie got all the supplies she needed and went up to the treehouse, with no intention of coming down until her parents talked to each other.  Her friends were supportive and helpful, keeping up her morale and providing her with supplies.  And as Winnie’s parents decided to wait her out,  one by one each of her friends decided that they also had issues with their parents.  Winnie needed the support, and they needed to raise issues as well.  Before she knew it, Winnie was joined by Squizzy and Lyle and Tabitha and Greta and Joey and Brogan and Aayush  and Logan.  Things get complicated pretty quickly and teachers and television reporters and kids around the world get involved.  It’s kids vs. parents in The Great Treehouse War!  Who will win?  Read and find out.

great treehouse war audioThe audio for The Great Treehouse War is produced as a full cast recording.  As the story begins, Winnie narrates the action,  each of the characters–kids and adults– have a different actor narrating their part of the story.  This works very well for this book because much of the print story is told through letters, books, Declarations, comic strips, clippings, calendars, homework, school reports and notes.  I actually love full cast audio recordings–narrations from a single, great reader are absolutely wonderful,  but occasionally having voice acting from a cast of several people is just amazing.  Since there were different voices, the story felt like it went faster, and listeners know exactly who speaking at any time.  The voices are wonderful, as is the acting.

With that said, if you haven’t read the book and are only listening to the audio version of The Great Treehouse War, make sure that you pick up a copy of the book to look through.  All the documents and notes and school assignments are funny, and the quirky hand-drawn artwork adds so much to the personalities to each of the characters.

The Great Treehouse War is written for ages 8 – 12, but it could be listened to by kids (and adults) of all ages. Lisa Graff is a very popular author; some of her other books are A Clatter of Jars, A Tangle of Knots and Absolutely, Almost.  The Great Treehouse War is one of her funnier ones.  So what are you waiting for?  Try it!  You’ll like it!

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So there you are!  If you enjoy humorous fiction and stories about friends, you’ll enjoy this book.  Kids who liked books by Kate Klise like Regarding the Fountain and Letters from Camp will also enjoy this book.  Fans of ongoing conflicts between friends or families, like Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s The Boy/Girl Battle or Jacqueline Davies’ Lemonade War series will enjoy this book. Fans of Peggy Giffords’ Moxy Maxwell series will like this book.

Some other humorous full-cast recordings at the library:
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper by Jean Van Leeuwen
House of Robots by Chris Grabbenstein and James Patterson

If you would like help finding these or any other books in the library, just ask us!  All our librarians are happy to match you with the perfect book or audio–any time, any day!  And until then…

Happy Reading!


great treehouse war detail

Book & Audio Review: Beyond the Bright Sea

Are you a summer visitor to the Cape?  Does the idea of living on an island fill you with delight?  How about adding a bit of treasure hunting, and an unsolved mystery?  If all of those things sound enticing, you’ll love this book!

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beyond the bright seaBeyond the Bright Sea
By Lauren Wolk, Read by Jorjeana Marie
6 CDs, 7 hours, 16 minutes

Crow lives on a nameless, tiny island; part of the Elizabeth Islands, off the cost of Massachusetts.  As long as she remembers, she’s been there with Osh.  But she wasn’t born there.  No, Osh found her as a tiny wailing baby, only hours old, in a small boat, washed up on the shore.  He took her in, cleaned her up, and fed her.  Now they live together in the tiny island home Osh created for them, surrounded by the sea and Osh’s art.

If she’d been a normal baby, someone would probably have taken her away from Osh, thinking he wasn’t fit to raise a small girl.  But Crow wasn’t what most of the islanders would call normal–too sickly, her eyes and skin too dark, her arrival on the small skiff too mysterious.  But most of all, people were afraid that she came from Penekese,   Penikese, the island next closest to their tiny island after Cuttyhunk.  Penikese, home of the leper colony.  Not knowing where Crow came from makes everyone on Cuttyhunk and the other small islands worried that Crow is dangerous.

But it doesn’t bother Crow, not really.  She has her island, she has Osh, and she has Miss Maggie, who she visits almost every day on her farm across the sandbar and who worries over her just as much as Osh does.  Crow also has her imagination and her curiosity.

But Crow’s life changes when she spots a fire over on Penikese, and she starts questioning everything she knows.  Once her curiosity is roused, she starts to look for answers to some of her questions:  Where did she come from?  Who are her “real” parents and why did they send her away?  What is her “real” name?  Why are there lights on Penikese and who is over there?

As Crow searches for answers, she finds herself on a dangerous path, involving menacing strangers and missing treasures.  Will she get her answers, or will she endanger the life she already has?

beyond the bright sea audioThe audio recording for Beyond the Bright Sea is absolutely marvelous.  Jorjeana Marie is suburb; her narration of Lauren Wolk’s gorgeous prose perfectly suits the story and the characters.  You’ll feel like you’re right there beside Crow as she explores the world around her.  I can’t say enough about how beautiful both the story and the narration of that story are.  It’s a perfect package.

Beyond the Bright Sea is perfect for anyone who likes stories of growing up, of discovering who you are, and of carefully plotted mysteries.  The writing is gorgeous.  It’s written for fourth through sixth grades, but the audio recording would be good for kids ages 8 through adults.  If you have ever visited Cape Cod, or are planning to visit, you should read this book: the portrait of the Elizabeth Islands and life on the Cape in the early part of the century is amazing.  You’ll be left wanting to know more about Crow and her world.

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If you can’t tell, I loved this book!  You can practically smell the salt air and hear the seagulls as you listen to Crow’s story unfold.  The pacing of the mystery leaves you on the edge of your seat; and Crows relationship with Osh and Miss Maggie is so, so good.  Really, everyone who lives in Massachusetts needs to read or listen to this book!

Some books and audios that have similar themes or feelings:
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holt
The War That Saved My Life by Jennifer Brubaker Bradley
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book or audio in the library, or you’re looking for suggestions on what to read next, ask me or any of our other librarians.  We’re happy to help!

Happy Reading!



Audio & Book Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

A great new family for readers of middle grade fiction!

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vanderbeekersThe Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
by Karina Yan Glaser, narrated by Robin Miles
5 CDs, 5.5 hours

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street.  Twins Jessie and Isa are the oldest, and as different from each other as possible–Jessie is scientific and practical, Isa is musical and quiet.  Oliver is the only boy, something that can be a trial, coming in the middle of four sisters.  Hyacinth loves animals and making crafts.  And Laney, the youngest is imaginative and active.  She has to be, to keep up with the others!  They have a dog named Franz, a cat named George Washington, and a house rabbit named Paganini.  And they love their home…from the basement to the rooftop.  The only drawback is that the Beiderman, their landlord, lives on the top floor.  He’s grouchy and doesn’t like kids.  Or so they’ve heard…they’ve actually never seen him.  He just calls their parents to complain.  Luckily, the Vanderbeeker kids have learned how to get along with his demands…and it’s not like he’s right above them.  Their apartment and his are divided by the second floor apartment, where Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet live.

So it comes as a total shock when their parents tell them that Mr. Beiderman has decided not to renew their lease…and they have only eleven days to pack up and find a place to live.  What makes it worse is that it’s only four and a half days until Christmas; who can think of presents and holiday spirit when they may lose their home?

The Vanderbeeker children decide that there’s only one course of action–to make the Beiderman realize that they’re the perfect family for 141st Street.  If they can make him love them, then he won’t ask them to leave!  Thus begins the secret (because they don’t want their parents to get caught in the middle) plan to overwhelm the Beiderman with kindness and crafts and cooking and music and anything else they can think of that may make him change his mind. Will it work?  As each of their well-intentioned plans go wrong, the kids despair.  They only have eleven days and counting to make the Beiderman realize how wonderful they are…

vanderbeekers audioThe audio recording for The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is perfect!  The narrator, Robin Miles, has a wonderful voice for both children and adults.  She does a great job creating the voices of people of many different ages from a variety of cultures with accents and cadence.  And each of the Vanderbeeker children sounds different as well, which isn’t always easy to do.

I would highly recommend The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, as both a book and an audio recording.  Fans of The Penderwicks, the Melendys, and The Moffats will love these siblings just as much.  The kids run from age 4 though age 13, so the book is probably best for third through fifth grade.  The audio could be enjoyed by all ages…parents will probably appreciate the Vanderbeeker children and their desperate quest to save their home just as much as their kids do.

Some similar stories (besides the ones listed above) to read or listen to if you liked The Vanderbeekers:
Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager
Savvy by Ingrid Law
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
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So if you’re looking for a family story with siblings you’d like to have, look no further than the Vanderbeekers!

If you would like help finding this book or getting any suggestions for other books to read, just ask one of our librarians.  We love to help people find books!

Happy Reading!



Audio and Book Review: The Magesterium

If you have the time, listening to series is fun!  It’s sort of like reading a really, really long book.  Sometimes it’s great to take a break between each book, and sometimes it’s good to keep reading each book in the series one after another until you get to the end.  On the Magisterium series, I’ve stopped listening to them in the middle, because I needed a change of pace.  I may end up reading the other books in print, just because that’s faster, and I want to know what happens!

How do you read series?  All in one gulp, or alternating with other books to prolong living in that particular book world?  Do you listen to audio series the same way?

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The Magisterium Series:
iron trial and copper gauntlet
The Iron Trial
by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Read by Paul Boehmer
9 CDs, 10.5 hours

The Copper Gauntlet
by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Read by Paul Boehmer
7 CDs, 8 1/2 hours

iron trialCallum Hunt knows that he’s one of the “weird kids” at school.  He doesn’t know why, but part of it might be that he’s angry all the time…and the other kids know it.  He’s angry that his father is different from other fathers, angry that he can’t play sports normally because one of his legs is shorter than the other, angry that he doesn’t have a mother.  But mostly, he’s angry because all kinds of things seem to go wrong around him.  Call’s  father has told him that it’s because of the magic he’s inherited. But even though magic sounds cool, and like something that would be fun, Call’s father has forbidden him to even think about it.  Because magic is evil, it’s twisted, and it killed his mother.

Magic?  At first Call thinks his father is crazy, but then one day he picks up Call in his antique Rolls Royce from school and drives the two of them to a run down old airplane hanger.  The large room is filled with kids and parents.  All the kids are excited and happy…ready to complete several tests to qualify to go to The Magisterium, an elite school for mages.  There are even several kids from his school in the group!

Even though the Masters of the school have an opening announcement that makes magic and attending the Magisterium sound like an exciting adventure, Call’s father has told him that he has to fail the tests.  If Call succeeds the Trials to get into The Magisterium, he will end up so deep underground in the school’s cave system that he’ll never see the sun again.  He says that the caverns are dark and sinister and full of danger.  According to Call’s father, any use of magic, whatever the intent, will kill him, if it doesn’t warp him first.

To please his father and save his life, Call works hard to do his worst at every Trial.  But even though he fails the trials quite spectacularly, he’s still chosen by Master Rufus to be an apprentice.  As he’s leaving for the caverns of the magic school, his father throws a knife to him…or is it at him?  Callum isn’t sure, but the warning his father shouts is unmistakable.  Then his father is dragged away by the other mages, and Call ends up at The Magisterium with Master Rufus and his fellow apprentices Aaron and Tamara.

Call finds that the Magisterium, the masters and the apprentices are nothing like what he had been warned about.  The school is dark and frightening, but magic is interesting and absorbing. As he takes lessons and learns more about magic and his past, he’s left wondering if his father was right…or was he hiding something from Call?  Once his education in magic begins, Call is finding out there’s a lot more to Mage Magic than he expected.

iron trial audioThe audio for The Iron Trial was very well done.  I loved Paul Boehmer’s vocals; he did a great job making all the characters sound different.  From the low and deep voice of Master Rufus to the sinister hissing of the lizard fire elemental to the voices of Call and his friends, everyone sounds very different. His pacing was excellent.  The language is fun, the cast is diverse, and the plot twists around and around through both volumes of the series that I listened to.

I quite enjoyed both The Iron Trial and the sequel, The Copper Gauntlet, about Call’s second year at the Magistirium. (The other books are The Bronze Key and The Silver Mask.)  I would highly recommend them to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.  If you like books about learning magic or uncovering secrets, you will enjoy The Magisterium series.  The two authors–Holly Black and Cassandra Clare–are also authors of two other popular series for kids and teens–The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Mortal Instruments Series.  If you liked those books (or even the movies!) you’ll like The Magisterium series.

The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet would be great audios for a family car trip with older elementary or middle school students.  There is quite a bit of darkness to some of Call’s past and present at the school, so it might not be good for younger elementary students.  If you managed to get through the fourth volume of Harry Potter, this is on par with darkness of The Magisterium.  But try it for yourself, and see what you think!


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And that’s it…I have yet to read the last two volumes, so if you finish them first, come and tell me what you think!

As always, if you need help finding these or any other books in the library, ask one of our librarians.  We are always happy to help match you with your best book choices!  Until then…

Happy Reading!