7/9/12 ** Another Young Hoosier Nominee for 2012-13. This will NOT feel like I'm reading it just for my job. Magic told from the animal familiar's point of view? Narrator is a cat? High fantasy? And so far, not really a Harry Potter clone. :)
7/11/12 ** I have to say that I'm disappointed with this book. In general, I am a fan of high fantasy, but this book leaves me wanting more. I'd been starting think that I was unable to be "critical" of any book this summer - I've been on a string of 4 & 5 star ratings. I think that may be because the FABULOUS LIBRARIANS who served on the nomination committee for Indiana's children's choice award, the Young Hoosier, did such an outstanding job.
Positives: There's lots of description of the landscape; there are cool magical components that do interesting things, like make thunder & lighting, strong odors, etc. If one is good at using all 5 senses to visualize, this is a strong book.
Quibbles with The Familiars
: A really important aspect to middle-grade novels is the characterization. I find the characters to be rather flat. The animals' basic personality is shown, but not deeper motivations. I'm not personally involved with the struggle they're going through (and trust me, since the narrator is a cat, I should be ALL OVER this book!) The authors' bio says that they started writing for TV/film and there are already plans to turn this into a movie. I suddenly started reading in a new way. I can definitely see this as an animated feature.
I will recommend to kids; I know that some will enjoy the animals' adventures, but I'll also make sure that they are reading books with great characters.