Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review - The Secret of the Magic Ring by Karen McQuestion (3/5 stars)

Reading level: Children's
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 156 pages
Publisher: AmazonEncore
Release Date: November 8, 2011
ISBN: 978-1612181424
Stand Alone or Series: Companion novel to Celia and the Fairies
Source: Free for Kindle/Also from Publisher for Review
Rating: 3/5 stars

I got a copy of this book for review form the publisher. This is a companion novel to Celia and the Fairies, this novel is told from Paul's viewpoint and takes place some time after the first book. I didn't like it quite as much as the first book, but it was still a magical and engaging story for younger readers.

Nine year old Paul discovers a strange box with a ring inside of it in a hole that is being dug for a pool behind his house. Paul finds that the ring seems to grant the deepest wish of anyone who touches it. This seems great until the granted wishes start going sour. Paul finds out that the saying "be careful what you wish for" definitely applies in this case.

This book is intended for younger readers, middle grade or younger. While I enjoyed Celia and the Fairies, I didn't enjoy this one as much mainly because I just didn't click with Paul as a character. Paul is nicknamed Spaz, and there's a reason for that. Paul is just kind of annoying. I know I was supposed to empathize with his problems fitting in with the other kids, but I had trouble doing that. I just couldn't relate to him and found him to be a shelfish, immature, and obnoxious character.

Celia is only in the story for a tiny amount of time, so you don't get to see much of her. The story mainly revolves around Paul, his dog Clem, and some of Paul's "friends". The fairy watching over Paul's family is in the story a small amount, and while she does play a major role in the story's resolution, you don't see a ton of her throughout the book.

I did enjoy the idea of fairies watching over specified families. I also enjoyed that the book teaches some good lessons about not being selfish and trying to care for others and be happy about who you are.

I had some trouble with the Magic ring itself because the way the magic worked wasn't consistent throughout the book. Initially it sounds like the ring will grant your most desperate wish at the time you pick it up; this is how it works for Paul's aunt and for Paul's dog. For some reason Paul was able to handle the ring a lot before he made a wish and then actually has to make an effort to think his wish loudly to get it to happen. Then all the wishes were supposed to go wrong, later this was modified that they were going to go wrong if you made a selfish wish. This was some circular logic because if the ring grants your dearest wish when you touch it how can you control whether or not that is a selfish wish or not? That's basically saying you can't ever think anything selfish just in case; anyway I thought about the whole thing for awhile and the way the ring worked was just inconsistent throughout the story.

The book is very short and ends well enough. It is a story I think young boys might enjoy reading. I think the original audience that was drawn to Celia and the Fairies (mainly younger girls) will find Paul a lot harder to relate to in this book. The dialogue throughout the story is pretty simple and at times a bit corny, but again it should be fine for very young readers.

Overall this was an okay story. The story teaches some good lessons around selflessness, it is easy to read, and has some fun ideas about fairies protecting families. It is a pretty simple story though, so I think older kids might be bored. I had a hard time really engaging with the main character Paul because I thought he was obnoxious. I also had some trouble with the inconsistencies in how the magic ring worked (I know, fantasy buff here, but I like my magic systems detailed and solid). This would be a great light read for young boys who are interested in the magical and fantastic, also possibly a good read for older boys who don't like getting into long stories. For middle grade and older boys I would recommend Harry Potter, Percy and the Olympians, or Fablehaven as excellent fantasy for middle grade reads.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 100+ Reading Challenge
- Show Me the Free Challenge

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