Thursday, February 8, 2024

Today's read... Cameron and the Shadow Wraiths by Mark Cheverton

With the romance and sweetness flowing here the last few days, it was time for a change-up. Today's read heads in a completely different direction and takes summer camp to the next level. This one is the second in a series...and no, I didn't read the first (can't change that habit).  One glance at the cover and title, and you'll be able to guess what the adventure holds. Yep, shadow wraiths and monster danger. So grab those mental swords, magic, or easy-to-hide-under-bedsheets because it appears we're going on a monster hunt.

A Battle of Anxiety vs. Trust
by Mark Cheverton
Middle Grade Fantasy
254 pages
ages 7 to 12

When Cameron returned to Camp Pontchartrain, he expected to have a peaceful summer without terrifying monsters from another world trying to destroy everything he loves . . . he was wrong, dead wrong.

Shadow-wraiths from Agartha have crossed over to Earth and are executing an evil scheme, starting with abducting Cameron's friend, Jessie. Because of last year's battle with Malphas and his monster horde, everyone thinks Cameron is a heroic figure who can easily save Jessie from the clutches of the terrifying wraiths, everyone, that is, except for Cameron. His anxiety, or his Beast as he calls it, is still very much a part of him, filling him with fear and uncertainty. But Cameron knows, he has no choice. He must save his friend, even if it costs him his life.

With his friends at his side, Cameron will journey across the swamps of New Orleans, confront an army of alligators, battle against shadow-wraiths, and watch a dear friend perish before he finally reaches his goal, the Swamp of Forgotten Souls. At the Swamp, Cameron will be forced to confront his fears and failures in order to use the Earth-magic he desperately needs to save all his friends.

But does he realize Malphas is watching from the Void and waiting for Cameron's failure?

Just like in 
Facing the Beast Within, Cameron must confront his anxiety, his Beast, while fighting an army of Shadow-wraiths in a hopeless battle to save his friends.

Buckle up and get ready for a thrilling ride.

GOODREADS      /      AMAZON     /     B&N


Heroism isn't easy as a boy battles deadly beasts—inside and out.

Cameron might have saved the world last summer, but as another year rolls by, he hits summer camp with more anxiety than before. The hero's welcome is huge, but the Beast inside of him is sure it's not deserved and he'll only disappoint everyone...especially when evil shows its face again. Shadow-wraiths are threatening them all, and everyone is looking toward him to lead the fight. Everyone but a bully from his past. Faced against monsters from every direction, Cameron has no idea how he'll save anyone this time.

This is an imaginative tale packed with adventure, dangerous situations, and magic. From a secret society to monsters from another realm, Cameron finds himself wrapped up in more than most kids his age could ever dream of handling. The sticky situations pop up, one after the other, keeping the tension, at those moments, high and making it hard to guess what Cameron and his friends will face next. The stakes soar, the danger is deadly, and in order to reach the solution, Cameron is going to have to step beyond what he believes he's capable of...and that is exactly what rolls into one of the main themes, since Cameron's biggest problem is self-doubt. 

It's interesting (and probably more realistic) to see a hero, who saved the world and knows it, return to normal life, where no one knows what happened, and have to face the same daily problems as before. His insecurities weren't blown away over night, but rather, have gained an extra edge due to the expectations others now have of him. So, that was a nice twist, especially when a bully from earlier in his childhood adds a constant reminder to Cameron's insecurities. Not that Cameron needs the reminder. His inner-banter constantly holds this insecurity up like a flashing red light, which end up getting more than a little repetitive. There are wise words from his therapist to help cope, but even these feel like they're on repeat. A little less would have been more. The tale, though, is exciting enough to smooth these over and keep the book interesting.

This is the second book in the series but can be read without visiting book one, and that even though the story builds from the previous adventure. The first chapters add a lot of backstory, which slowed the flow (especially for anyone who read book one) but made sure everything was covered to keep plot holes away as the adventure continues. Tossed in file entries from a secret society create a extra level of mystery and fun...although I'm not sure if these were in book one or not. Also, Cameron's friends sink into a bit of elemental magic, which adds a new twist on several ends. 

While very message driven, this read holds more than a little excitement and adventure.

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