By the end, of course, Arty and friends will prove themselves, and a certain sword of legend might get yanked from its boulder. Jauregui’s quick, clever plot pits the heroes against a scheming wizard, a terrifying dragon, and sundry beasts of sea and forest. This Camelot lies in the fantasy playground of Atlium, alive with fairies, trolls and romantic settings for adventure, such as the Forsaken Forest, where Arty and friends face vivid (but not too scary) dangers. Older readers will enjoy the connections Jauregui draws between this unique vision of Arthurian legend and other myths.
Jauregui’s crisp, clear prose surges readers through his tale. He’s adept at quick sketches of character, offhandedly comic dialogue, and brisk, memorable action. Occasionally, when introducing the cast or laying out the scope of the world, Arty offers up a large lump of expository text; in other instances, the narrative occasionally bucks ahead too quickly for some emotional beats to resonante. Those minor pacing issues aside, though, this adventure will engross young readers and charm the adults who share it with them.
Takeaway: This playful take on Arthurian legend will delight middle grade fantasy fans.
Great for fans of: Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah and the End of Time, Jennifer A. Nielsen’s The False Prince.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A