Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review:Max Hamby and the Blood Diamond by Kathy Cyr

Max Hamby, Book 1
by Kathy Cyr
Gaslight Press
Middle Grade Fantasy
211 pages

The first book in the children’s fantasy series - Max Hamby.

It’s the last week of school. With sunny days ahead and no more tests or bullies, life for Max Hamby is about to get alot better.....until he crashes into an odd exhibit at the local museum.

Strange things begin to happen.

When Max’s mother disappears, he’s left in the care of his eccentric neighbor where lawn gnomes come to life and a bird meows. Mrs. Pitt shows him that magic is real and not all like the fairytale she once knew.

The discovery leads him to Merrihaven, where even stranger things await, including a dwarf, a troll and a couple of pixies.

He quickly finds himself at the center of a battle between good and evil.

Someone has resurrected the Shadowstone to free the evil imprisoned inside. Max must summon the courage to find seven magical stones to save his mother and stop the evil, before it’s too late.


There are characters which grow on the reader as the story progresses, and by the end, without the reader even realizing it, these characters have managed to take a place in the reader's heart--Max Hamby is one of these.

The story starts with an awkward boy, Max Hamby, on a class field trip to a maybe not so exciting museum. For Max, disaster is guaranteed since he doesn't get along with the teacher, the kids enjoy bullying him every chance they get and, the last draw, his shoe laces are against him. Max literally stumbles into a world he doesn't understand and knows nothing about. 

Like Max and his shoelaces, I stumbled through the first chapters simply because there is so much going on and so many characters involved that I had a hard time settling into the plot or world. But I'm glad I held on because after the story gets going, the world takes over and refuses to let go.

Max is a perfect character for his age--doesn't feel completely at home in his own skin, ready to prove himself, thinks of others, tries to do what is right, and finds his efforts not always working out as planned. But then, he is up against quite the array of mystic creatures.

The fantasy world is as rich and delightful as a candy store. Although starting out in a regular world, things slowly warp as witches, trolls and magic trickle in. There are even less known fantasy creatures and magical descriptions which make it seem as if the wonders could appear right before the reader's eyes.

Max is on a fast-paced adventure, going from one situation into the next...much which is, in the beginning, beyond his comprehension and control. But unlike many stories of this genre, Max isn't the only one riding the danger through. There is a large array of characters involved--aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors, and bad guys (of course)--and they are bound determined to keep Max out of the situation as much as possible. This creates a story where Max is, at first, more of a figure being shoved around, and the story telling reflects this. The happenings aren't only given from Max's point of view, but flip-flop between the characters, and sometimes, setting and scene. Since there is no warning or indication that a change in point of view is occurring, the story jolts, leaving the reader to figure out and notice on their own that a sudden change in views has occurred. 

But it's exactly the fantastic rainbow of characters which makes this story so fun and intriguing to read. Each has their own personality and with all the twists and turns, each gains their own story, creating a rich world worthy of a series to be read.

And here she is. . .

Kathy Cyr writes in an underground cave, but has her eye on a wizard's castle.

On an average day, she's usually surrounded by a dwarf with a curious addiction to coffee,
a moody dragon and a pink pixie with a large sweet tooth.

When not writing books, she can be found daydreaming about faraway places,
enjoying a cup of coffee with the dwarf, sharing a laugh with the moody dragon
(when he's in the mood) and sitting on a rainbow of treats with the pink pixie.

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