I like to think of this series as Grimm for middle graders...
I love middle grade books that don't dumb things down, but take an honest approach at real situations and show how that affects our youth. Even in the midst of the fantasy in this story, this book cuts to the reality of situations... From how differences and fear trumps appreciation, to the nuances in friendship, to the length that family will go to protect you.
This is perfect for the middle grader who isn't afraid of monsters or darker themes. There is more than a bit of violence, but also a heavy dose of humor, and heroism to balance that out. My only criticism in this book comes from when the narrator chooses to break the fourth wall... I've never actually seen it done in books before, which made this device particularly fun, but I felt it was used more successfully in certain locations more than others.
Jack must find a way to stay true to himself and find the answers he seeks. Along the way new friends, new threats and new discoveries aide the journey.
The fourth wall breaking that pulled away from the story was gone... And instead I found myself fully engaged and engulfed in this adventure and characters. Jack Templar is a real boy, and you route for him like you know him. And now that the foundation and direction for the series has been defined, I am excited to follow him on the rest of his journeys, knowing the path ahead us treacherous, exciting, and sure to be full of wit and fun! Again, this book is full of darker themes and violence and should be considered for younger middle grade or sensitive kids.
The first book in the series introduces the characters and problem. The second book offers the necessary training and background, and the third book delivers on it's promise to start a incredible journey.