Plot: As readers dive into the main story, they will see concepts that relate to young, likely middle-grade audiences. Arty embarks on a life-changing journey and encounters mystical and dangerous events, while still staying true to the relatable experiences of adolescent life, such as dealing with change, coming of age, and fostering memorable and life-changing friendships.
Prose/Style: With a clear and engaging voice, the entire story is very professionally executed. However, the pacing could be evened out and the transitions between scenes are not always clear. Many descriptions are relatively brief in favor of moving the plot along, but vivacious nonetheless.
Originality: A mixture of humor, haunting images, magic, and dynamic friendships, the manuscript takes classic tropes and plot points and adapts them to a nostalgic setting often seen in older works. Though the plot and tropes have been seen before, this can still be a fun read for middle-grade audiences.
Character Development/Execution: The story exhibits a diverse cast of characters, and each is given a different personality so it’s easy to tell them apart and to remember their names. The dialogue representing these characters is realistic and complements the prose nicely. However, apart from Arty, it can be hard for some readers to feel attached to the other characters, including his friends. These characters could be replaced by others and the overall plot would likely remain the same, making this story more plot-driven than character-driven.
Date Submitted: April 19, 2021
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