Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer

#MiddleGradeMay: The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson


mmg-may-reading-challenge(Pic and blurb source. How adorable is that cover?)The Familiars cover

Is the kingdom’s fate in the hands of an orphan cat?

Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn’s always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so and Aldwyn is happy to play along.

He just has to convince the other familiars the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert that he’s the powerful cat he claims to be.

Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia.

On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship.

There’s a blurb on the back where another author praises, “…combines the magic of Harry Potter and the adventure of Warriors…”

That pretty much sums it up, maybe too much. There were a few things that felt a little too “familiar,” like the three friends – a green-eyed orphan boy, a goofy boy sidekick with a big family, and a know-it-all girl who is always lecturing.

And while I can understand comparing it to the Warriors’ series because of the animal element, they don’t seem to have too much else in common.

That said, I did enjoy the book. Aldwyn was clever, Gilbert provided comic relief, and Skylar was able to recite knowledge/history about things. I especially liked the seven dragons’ story.

It was great to watch their friendship grow as they worked together to overcome obstacles. The map of Vastia helped to chart the heroes progress and even after the journey wrapped up, there was still mystery left for the next books in the series – what happened to Aldwyn’s parents and where did Skylar’s anklet come from?

There is a death, but it’s only minimally described, as is the violence, so this would be a fun book to read out loud with kids, especially the parts with Gilbert. I’m not sure it would entirely hold the interest of older kids, unless they were animal lovers.

Author: Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Things I like: cats, snacks, baseball, green tea, taking pictures of trees & movies so bad, they’re good.

10 thoughts on “#MiddleGradeMay: The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson

  1. Great review! And yes on that cover, it book talks itself that is for sure.

  2. I’ve always loved the covers for these series, but I’ve never been a big fan of stories driven by animals as the characters. However I do believe it won’t hurt to try something different. Thanks for the review. 🙂

  3. I’m not big on animal characters, but I have this book and it sounds like a great read.

  4. Cats! That is an adorable cover.

  5. My 7 year old is just starting to read things on his own– this might be a fun one for him. I will see if he likes the sound of it. :0)

  6. This looks perfect for my seven-year-old. I’m off to order it now.

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