Series: The Familiars #1
Published by HarperCollins on September 7th 2010
Is the kingdom's fate in the hands of an orphan cat?
Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn's always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so and Aldwyn is happy to play along.
He just has to convince the other familiars the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert that he's the powerful cat he claims to be.
Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia.
On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship.(
I thought The Familiars looked like a fun, middle grade fantasy and it's also a debut novel, so I dove right in. A Typical fantasy plot – three human wizard apprentices are captured and the familiars must save them. Definitely full of twists, as Aldwyn has to hide his secret of having no magical abilities. Action-packed with time to build relationships, The Familiars is a great middle grade fantasy that many kids and teens will get a kick out of.
I really loved Aldwyn. He's an alley cat and his story is sort of the old rags-to-riches type scenario. Aldywyn is at the right place at the right time and finds himself becoming a familiar. He no longer need to con a meal daily and finds himself attached to his human counterpart. The other familiars provide a great trio of budding friends: Skyla – a bluejay who is interested in human magic, and Gregory – a tree frog who is mostly concerned with catching flies. Both have their own abilities to bring to the table.
Final Verdict: I think that anyone can see the rag-to-riches and rescue plot lines and compare it to other age-old stories they have read growing up. Also, the humor used in the novel also helps the reader relate to the characters. Definitely was a great read and one I would highly recommend to my students.
Cover Commentary: Very cute. Definitely looks magical. I especially love the title lettering.