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Rafe Rebellius and the Clash of the Genres

Fourteen-year-old Rafe Rabellius really gets into books. Like, literally. And sometimes he can't get out.

After being dragged cross-country by his research scientists parents all his life—Greenfort High will be his seventh school when Rafe starts in the fall—there's hope. If Rafe will agree to share his new home with a so-called extended family he's never even heard of (what kind of name is Genrés anyway?), they'll stay put for four whole years. Cool, right?

Is a wooden staff shoved under your throat by a short, fully robed and hooded man with caterpillar eyebrows named Whic the Druid Warrior cool? Is it cool to find yourself suddenly in a stagecoach under attack by pseudo-Indians? What about unwittingly rescuing a robot princess from the 29th century who has auto-growing hair with LED glowing tips? Is that cool? Well, yeah. Rafe thinks that's pretty cool. But he's afraid he's not.

Struggling to define himself, Rafe is drawn into an urgent battle to save his newfound home and its collection of different genre characters: fantasy, hard-boiled noir, romance, western and more. As Rafe is bounced from book to book, his attempts to help soon backfire and the conflict expands to threaten their varied story worlds as well as his own very real one.  Unless Rafe can conquer his lifelong timidity and use his just-discovered abilities to find his own story, it's The End for them all.

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 5 out of 10
Character/Execution: 5 out of 10
Overall: 6.50 out of 10


Rafe Rebellius is used to his family moving around, but when they move into a library, it’s the weirdest move yet—especially when Rafe has to travel through books in order to save the library from being turned into a Confederate museum. Rafe is an appealing narrator, and the extended cast is delightfully wacky, while the book walking—though the rules are never satisfactorily explained—is sure to charm.

Date Submitted: September 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews

In this debut novel, a boy moves with his family from Chicago to the quaint little town of Greenfort, where he begins a journey into a larger and stranger world.

Rafe Rebellius is the son of intrepid parents who’ve moved with him from state to state, but it’s in Greenfort that his destiny starts to truly bloom. He immediately meets a bushy-browed Druid and an attractive, age-appropriate, mechanical-seeming girl named Fem. He runs afoul of bullies, peruses Jack London, and notices that the things he reads truly envelop his life: if it’s snowy cold in his book, he breathes out a frosty fog himself. When Rafe’s mom and dad rush off on one of their escapades, leaving him alone in Greenfort, he makes new friends, learns more about his own connection to the worlds inside stories, and decides he must help combat the machinations of the gray witch and save his new home (“One part of him wanted to run up and hide in his room. But another part—a big part—couldn’t stand the thought of staying out of the fight”). The story brings together characters from fantasy, sci-fi, Westerns, hard-boiled detective tales, and other genres. Without wasting too much verbiage, the volume lets young readers (and mature ones) see the differences between all the styles of popular storytelling and the ways they can clash and harmonize. The book is short, smart, charmingly illustrated, fast-paced, and packed with a great deal of fun. The text is generally clean and polished, with the occasional part that cries out for an editor (“ ‘Mertz Glacier is going to calve!’ his father said, his eyes dancing in his head”). The work doesn’t shy away from the harder edges of the various genres but softens them up a little for a YA audience (“ ‘No way!’ said Rafe. ‘You were a cop who went to prison for a crime you didn’t commit?’…‘Not exactly’ ”). Lowery inserts a bit of rough violence that darkens the narrative, but he gives the episode gravity, and it helps clarify that genuine adventure means real danger. The result is a light confection that celebrates reading, writing, and the daydreaming that comes from books.

A well-written and entertaining fantasy tale about a heroic bookworm.

Rafe rides onto Amazon

Rafe Rebellius and the Clash of the Genres is now available as a paperback on Amazon! Click the link below to get your copy today.