What It Is About: Ned and Tam are twin brothers. When they board a raft and hit the river, only one of them survives. Tam was the favorite brother and Ned was always in his shadow. After Tam doesn't survive in the river, Ned must carry on still living in the shadow of his brother's memory. Ned's mother is a witch and is in possession of some special magic. The people of the village keep her at arm's length, but use her when they need her special powers. Ned's mother is called "Sister Witch". Her job is to protect the magic. A Bandit King comes to the village to steal the magic from her. Because the Sister Witch has been taken to take care of the Queen, it becomes Ned's job to protect this magic. As the Bandit King is in the village and trying to get the magic from Ned, his daughter, Aine, is in the enchanted forest. She comes across Ned in the forest and the two of them must decide whether they will trust each other and work together to save Ned's village. This is a difficult choice because Aine doesn't want to go against her father, but knows he is making some horrible choices. It is up to these two young people to stop a war between two different kingdoms. They are not alone in this quest, as there are NINE stones that may or may not help them.
What I Thought Of It: I'm not a big fantasy fan, but I really enjoyed this story. I was hooked as soon as I started reading it and didn't stop thinking about it until I reached the last page. Sometimes fantasy gets a big long, and detailed, for my taste, but that did not happen with this story. I enjoyed the character of Ned and was cheering for his success through the entire story. I liked how the two young people came together to help solve both of their problems and work for the better good of everyone involved. I can honestly say that I've never read a novel that had "stones" as central characters and it worked quite well for this story.
Who Should Read It: This novel is geared toward the middle-grade reader, but I think the reader definitely needs to be in fifth grade or above. This book would make a wonderful read aloud for students in grade four or above. If a reader in the upper elementary grades enjoys fantasy, then this is the book for them. I also think middle-school and high-school readers would enjoy this story. Adult readers would also find this a satisfying read, especially if they are fantasy lovers. Happy Reading!
Rating: 4 STARS out of 5 Stars