I have been reading children’s, middle grade, and young adult fiction for a while but now that my daughter (8) is reading more seriously I am more focused on what she might like and what seems a good fit.
So when I heard Matt Mikalatos had published a middle grade fiction book as part of a planned longer series I was intrigued. I managed to get a copy of The Sword of Six Worlds, Book One in the Adventures of Validus Smith at the local library (I have since purchased the Kindle version).
For centuries the paladins protected the Earth from a creeping darkness known as the Blight. That all changed when a new enemy destroyed the paladins, plunging the free worlds into danger. Validus Smith—an ordinary girl in an ordinary town—is next in line to become the paladin. Untrained, unsure of her destiny, and hunted by monstrous forces, she must recover the fabled Sword of Six Worlds, the only weapon capable of defeating the Blight. The Sword, however, is not on Earth, but in a strange fantasy world connected to her own. In an unfamiliar world of monsters, talking animals and living rocks, can an ordinary girl like Validus survive?
I finally got around to reading it recently and found it to be a creative start to what feels like a promising series.
I have to admit, however, that for some reason I read this book off and on while reading several other books (fiction and non) and I think that contributed to a lack of rhythm and enjoyment on my part.
Even with that caveat, I found it to be a pretty creative story with some interesting characters. I like the world building so far but it did seem a little thin in parts (like there needed to be more backstory or insight into what and why). But given that it is a middle grade book and the first in a series that is likely just my bias and the effect of not having read it in larger chunks.
I did like the way Matt weaved in action sequences and character development. And he does a nice job of keeping a certain level of mystery and tension throughout the story. It has the effect of wanting to know and understand more about the world, the characters and the events that have brought the story to this point; which pulls the reader forward.
And there were some nice creative touches; the rock mage probably first among them but the goat challenge was nice too. The talking animals as a whole brought comic relief and some unique personalities to the story. Despite the hints at classic authors like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis the story didn’t feel derivative (which is harder than it might seem).
All in all, an enjoyable start to an intriguing series. It will be very interesting to see where it goes from here. I plan on giving this one to my daughter as I am confident she will enjoy the female lead character and the action adventure elements. If you are looking for a creative read for middle graders check out the start to this new series.