It was with high expectations I started this book when it showed up the day of its release. I had heard so many great things about it, and it is not that I was disappointed, far from it, there just was no way it could live up to all of the hype. Yet this book is a great story, imaginative, inventive and fresh. You keep thinking you know what will happen next and the author keeps proving you wrong. But I didn’t love it. At times I found myself skimming it a little bit trying to just read rather than savor every moment. This could also be of no fault to the story, but rather my own busy life. With all that being said though, I cannot wait to hand this to my 5th graders because I have a feeling that some of them will absolutely love it and devour it quicker than I did.
Bottom line: Absolutely appropriate for any 5th graders who loves a great story.
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop, grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.
But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.