Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: The Silver Chains by L.J. Clarkson

Mastermind Academy, Book 2
by L.J. Clarkson
Illustrated by Denis Martynets
Middle Grade Fantasy
238 pages

Isabelle’s first year at Mastermind Academy starts with a bang, broken bones and her magic going wild. What a way to make new friends! To top it off, her enemies threaten to kill her family if she doesn’t help free them from prison. Left with only one option, Isabelle sets out to reign in her magic, secure a place in the advanced class and learn to fly a Mesura. But trouble is brewing and things are taking a very different turn.

Boldrick Cavendar hides a murky past. His actions are why Agartha is under threat from Terran invasion, why they stole and duplicate Agarthan technology for military purposes. A chance at redemption surfaces to stop these scoundrels declaring war on his home. But for some reason he cannot put his claws on, someone keeps stopping him at every turn, and that someone might be Lady Isabelle.


Packed full of fantasy, this book dives off into adventure with cute characters and a quick plot.

First, I didn't read book one in the series, which was a mistake on my part. Book two seems to start off where the first one left off. Although it wasn't too hard to get the general jest of things and dive into the adventure, there were big holes in the characters and background which I really should have filled in first. In other words, this is not recommended as a stand alone and should be read as a series.

Excitement finds Isabelle even before she hits the Mastermind Academy with a thrilling air-surf, which not only shows off some of her talents but introduces the lovely Boldrick (a cat who's not just that). Once at school, Isabelle is thrilled to learn more about her magic, but soon finds herself in a sticky situation. Boldrick isn't any better off as both land in a messes that might be over their heads.

There's a lot of good stuff packed in these pages, and the main characters, Isabelle and Boldrick, count to that group. Their reactions and personalities are simply wonderful, and although they lack a bit of depth, it's still fun to follow and cheer for them as they fight their way through. Fantasy thrives in this story and the pacing doesn't fall back into boredom even once. The writing could be a bit smoother, but in general, it's an easy world to fall into. 

Kids who love magic, fun and adventure are sure to enjoy this. 

All about. . .
LJ Clarkson!!!

LJ ‘fibber’ Clarkson tells everyone she gave up her Environmental Engineering career to write full time. But that's not entirely true. Ten percent of the time she sleeps in. Playing spider solitaire consumes 5% (bad, bad habit). Running Indicated-a promotional and support site for authors-steals another 18.75%. In her remaining waking hours, she writes, laughs at her own jokes, reads and falls asleep whenever her boyfriend reels off geeky computer lingo (zzzzz). If she were a Mastermind, she’d uninvent early mornings, grammar, broccoli, cleaning and her dog’s fussy eating habits.


cleemckenzie said...

I'm always curious when a reader of middle grade says the characters lack depth.

Tonja Drecker said...

Hmmm...I think the best way to describe it (or at least my maybe not so good attempt to :) )is that some actions, decisions or traits seem superficial. Things don't always have root and skim across with more of a 'accept that because it is so or isn't important enough' kind of feeling. Not that kids' books need much depth (YA has a tendency to delve into heart, kidney and soul), but my own kids (9 and 11) comment right away when a character comes across as if their personalities lie on the surface (unless it's Captain Underpants or has the soul purpose of being silly). They want to understand and feel with the characters too and not just watch a plot roll on by. And they aren't always easily fooled. I agree it's a pretty gray area, but then opinions usually are.
I still recommend this book, btw, and am sure kids will love the jump into the fantasy.