Monday, June 3, 2019

Order of the Majestic - Matt Myklusch

Disclaimer: The only writing I've done since January have been emails home. The only reading I've done has been curriculum or assigned reading. And I'm sorry, no one should have to read 1984 or Hamlet four times in two weeks!! It fries the brain.

Hug your ELA teachers. And please forgive this review - I'm finding my review feet again!

SummaryFans of Brandon Mull and James Riley will love this action-packed, accessible fantasy story about one kid’s journey to discover magic as he’s caught up in an epic battle between two powerful ancient orders.

Twelve-year-old daydreamer Joey Kopecky’s life has been turned upside down. After acing a series of tests, he’s declared a genius and awarded a full scholarship at a special (year-round!) school. He’s understandably devastated, until he takes one last test, and the room around him disappears, replaced by the interior of an old theater.

There, Joey meets the washed-up magician, Redondo the Magnificent, and makes a shocking discovery…magic is real, but sadly, there isn’t much left in the world. It may be too late to save what little remains, but for the first time in his life Joey wants to try—really try—to do something big. Soon he’s swept up into a centuries-old conflict between two rival societies of magicians—the Order of the Majestic, who fights to keep magic alive and free for all, and the dark magicians of the Invisible Hand, who hoard magic for their own evil ends.

The endless battle for control of magic itself has reached a tipping point. For Redondo and the Order to survive, Joey must inherit the lost legacy of Harry Houdini. Will he prove himself worthy, or will the Invisible Hand strike him down? The answer will depend on Joey’s ability to believe, not just in magic, but in himself. (Summary and image from I was provided a book in exchange for an honest review.)

Review: Why is it that the ones who don't want to be seen as geniuses are typically the ones who are? Such is the case with Joey - he swears he's not that smart, he's just cracked the code to answering questions. That being said, he does recognize that he sees things differently. That ability to see things differently is what sets him apart, both in his real life and in the magical battlefield he finds himself.

This is a fun book. Magic is hard to take too seriously, and Myklush doesn't fall into the trap of attempting to do so. His characters have growing room (and growing pains) despite their age and ability, and it's refreshing to see that development. Further, I can't begin to sing the praises of having involved and caring parents in a book. Could they be more involved? Yes. But it's the Max and Ruby type of involvement -- they're probably very involved, but our middle grade kids totally don't see that! 

I really haven't had the opportunity to read books since January (part of the perils of teaching school), so I had to be very selective of what I did choose to read for leisure. This was the perfect vacation book. I flew through it on a plane ride, thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience, and didn't feel cheated by the story or the characters. Joey is a good kid. His friends are real and any one of them is fully capable of being the hero if needed. His mentor is acerbic, gruff, and real.  He honestly reminded me of the teachers we all had - the ones we were convinced hated us, but who we learned more from in a week than years with any other. 

Rating: Four stars

For the sensitive reader: Magic. And a few deaths.  

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