Calum Ranson is sure of three things: his cousin Finley is alive, Calum will find him, and no one knows Calum and his family are Sidhe. No one until Laurel shows up at his mother’s bookstore wearing a dark clan’s mark.
When Calum learns the details surrounding the disappearance of Laurel’s brother, he suspects the evil Hobayeth clan. Calum and Laurel work together in the Realm of Man and the Otherworld to rescue her brother – revealing a connection between Calum and Laurel that may cost Finley his life.
This book is difficult for me to review because I realized, as I read it, that middle grade just isn't my style. I like romance and more adult situations too much, so it is hard for me to be entertained by a MG read. But let me tell you why, if you or your child enjoys MG, you might like this story:
* It's fresh in that typical paranormal stories feature a fae (or other) character who is afraid of people and what will happen if people find out his secret. In this story, the threat to Calum comes from the fae themselves. People are good guys in this story and I liked that.
* The world building is imaginative and cool. There are necklaces that can get you into the Otherworld, Gaelic writing on bookshelves that's really spells, and kids who can call their parents by their first names because good fae are made more powerful when their names are used. Who wouldn't have loved that excuse as a kid? Plus, Calum gets to travel to another world, learn about different fae cultures, and see and practice magic. It's not as magic-driven has Harry Potter, but it's still pretty cool.
* The characters are in very real places in their MG lives. Calum loses a good friend who suddenly thinks he's too cool for him after hanging around with an older kid. Calum, who is just entering middle school, is embarrassed to have a girl (Laurel) for a friend, even if she is awesome. And he will so NOT admit that he's jealous that she stares at his cousin all of the time.
* I also liked how the lives of Calum and Laurel, who hadn't known each other before the story begins, have such parallel lives without knowing it. And by helping Laurel with her problem, Calum ends up solving part of the mystery that had been plaguing him. The themes of friendship and helping others are strong in this book without being in your face.
* The reason I didn't give the book 5 stars was because Calum didn't save the day on his own. I won't spoil the ending more than that, but I'd prefer it if an adult hadn't had to help. And that could possibly be my YA/NA bias creeping in...
All in all, this was a delightful little MG book and I want to thank the author and publisher for providing me with an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest review. Get your copy, here:
“The Circle is full of magic and mystery. Readers will be engrossed in faerie realms, charming characters, and a state of wonder and imagination. The Circle is for those who delight in reading fantasy and exploring mystical worlds.”
–Kathleen Fox, LibraryGames.com
Cindy Cipriano lives in NC with her husband, son, and 27 pets. Okay, more like one cat, three dogs, and many, many fish. Cindy is an award winning science teacher, who this past August celebrated her 12th first day of sixth grade.
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