Book Review

Recent Reads: Wishful Thinking by Ali Sparkes and Hollow Earth by John and Carole E Barrowman.

A round up of some of the books I’ve recently read.

imageWishful Thinking by Ali Sparkes. Oxford University Press.
It’s just a regular trip for Kevin, and he comes back with just the regular sorts of things. Some local fudge, a scented candle for his mum…and his own personal god. It’s Abandinus, a little-known Celtic deity, who has suddenly found a new purpose in his eternal life – sorting out Kevin’s.

With a god on your side, everything’s going to get a lot easier, isn’t it? After all, a god can get stuff done. The trouble is, it’s not always the kind of stuff Kevin has in mind…

This book is a fairly standard, middle grade fantasy infused adventure tale. Like others in the genre it features a lead boy character, Kevin, along with a pair of trusty supporting friends – one boy and one girl. Where it does differ is the fantasy element, Kevin accidentally summons Abandinus – a Celtic god, and once you’ve summoned one Celtic god a handful more will follow.

I enjoyed the fantasy element of this book, it was nice to learn a bit about these lesser known gods and goddesses. In places the book is quite moralistic, but this is written in such a way that it doesn’t feel heavy handed, and it may encourage young readers to think about what they would do in the situation. Overall the book is enjoyable enough, but I have read other similar books that I’ve enjoyed more, and I’ve enjoyed other books by this author far more.

imageHollow Earth by John and Carole E. Barrowman. Buster Books.
Imagination matters most in a world where art can keep monsters trapped—or set them free.

Lots of twins have a special connection, but twelve-year-old Matt and Emily Calder can do way more than finish each other’s sentences. Together, they are able to bring art to life and enter paintings at will. Their extraordinary abilities are highly sought after, particularly by a secret group who want to access the terrors called Hollow Earth. All the demons, devils, and evil creatures ever imagined are trapped for eternity in the world of Hollow Earth—trapped unless special powers release them.

The twins flee from London to a remote island off the west coast of Scotland in hopes of escaping their pursuers and gaining the protection of their grandfather, who has powers of his own. But the villains will stop at nothing to find Hollow Earth and harness the powers within. With so much at stake, nowhere is safe—and survival might be a fantasy.

This book opens with a chapter set in the Middle Ages. It grabs your attention and has you asking loads of questions and then jumps you forward to the modern day and adds more questions and introduces engaging characters – a few hours later you find you’ve powered your way through to the end of the book. Well that was my reading experience anyway, this book got its claws into me within a few pages and refused to let go.

I love the world that has been created for this book, it’s well described and thought out – I particularly loved that it links to our world through art, a few times paintings are mentioned that I knew, and a few made me look them up. I really hope that young readers will want to look up the paintings too and be introduced to some wonderful pieces of art.

I really liked the main characters, again this is a middle grade book featuring a trio with two boys and a girl, but in this book the three characters are far more equal and all have an important part to play. I very much liked that one of the main characters has a significant hearing impairment and communicates using sign language – he is written in a wonderfully manner of fact style, his deafness does not define him or become an important part of him, it’s just one facet of many that make up his character.

This is the opening book of a trilogy, it does a good job of balancing world building with action. I am really looking forward to seeing how the remaining books answer some of the questions left open at the end of this book.

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2 thoughts on “Recent Reads: Wishful Thinking by Ali Sparkes and Hollow Earth by John and Carole E Barrowman.

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