by N.A. Caldron
Wiggling Pen Publishing
Release Date: November 14, 2015
I'd like to thank the author for sending me an ARC in return for an honest review.
I was a little leery about this book because I wasn't crazy about the cover art. On occasion, I may have mentioned I do judge books by their covers. Give me a gorgeous cover and I'll jump at a book. Granted, some books with good covers turn out to be terrible, and some books with not-so-great covers turn out to be pretty good. That's what happened with Anya.
This is a fun story about three friends -Anya, Gevin, and Taika- who discover their kingdom's 200-year-old secret. And magic. They also get into their share of trouble and adventure along the way, including a troll, some lava lizards, and getting on their monarch's bad side.
The characters are fun: Taika, the bookworm and master planner; Anya, who hasn't quite decided what she wants out of life; Gevin, who is such a boy.
"And to think I was concerned with your feelings."Told mostly from Anya's perspective, we get a lot of detail on her family's poor life and her tough job in the royal kitchen. It was surprising how much we get to see of Anya's work throughout the entire story, instead of just the expected introductory bit, since it's not directly related to adventure/secret side. On the one hand, it was refreshing to see life go on as normal for the kids, since these are the only three people in the kingdom aware of what's really going on, but there are times that the extent of detail felt a little out of place, just because of its lack of impact on the bigger story or the characters.
"What feelings? I don't have any feelings!"
In addition to investigating this 200-year-old secret, we get to see Anya deal with average kid problems, like the bully Canis, her annoying older brother, and getting into trouble with her mother. We also get to see her deal with not-so-average kid responsibilities. In the beginning of the story, Anya gets a better-paying job than the rest of her family and readers will watch her handle this with maturity. I loved seeing this kind of responsibility handed to a young protagonist, because it will translate well for kids to see someone their own age taking on such an important if unexciting role in the family. Any book can hand a kid a grand, life-changing destiny, but it's nice to see that same kid cleaning house and cooking dinner on her days off, too. Maybe it will give readers an idea. ;)
The story ends in a good spot, giving you most of the answers you want, but leaving just enough to explore so you want to see what happens next. Now that I'm finished with this book, I think I'm going to pass it along to some of my niblings.
The writing quality is on the average side but on a good level for blossoming readers. While the writing quality is not quite as stellar as I enjoy, I feel the need to remind myself that it's also intended for middle graders, who won't be as picky as me.
This will be a good book for younger readers who love fantasy or are just getting into it. It has flavors of both Sorcerer's Stone and Spiderwick Chronicles, while the characters themselves remind me a lot of the Ever Afters' Triumverate, especially with the dancing lessons Anya gets, which was probably one of my favorite scenes. (Gawsh, I'm such a girl.)
Anya and the Secrets of Cupola will be released November 14, 2015. It's available for pre-order in ebook at Amazon.com and in paperback at www.nacauldron.com/.