(Jen) The Artist Librarian's Reviews > Search for the Shadow Key

Search for the Shadow Key by Wayne Thomas Batson
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3 & 1/2 stars.

Wayne Thomas Batson burst onto the publishing scene ten years ago with a "Narnia-esque" novel, The Door Within and quickly established himself as one of the top Christian Speculative authors for middle grade fiction. While I don't think this is his best work (in my opinion, that goes to his Pirate Adventures books), Search for the Shadow Key is a fast paced, contemporary fantasy ideal for reluctant readers.

The primary reason I categorize this novel as being for middle grade reluctant readers are the chapter lengths. Similar to Jennifer A. Nielsen's Ascendance trilogy, each chapter is no longer than ten pages. Much like the Ascendance trilogy and other general market novels aimed at reluctant readers, the story is tight, fast paced, and has lots of action.

Because of the quickened pace and shorter chapters, I felt that Batson's character development was a bit weaker compared to some of his previous work. I personally struggled to connect to characters because none of them really stood out to me. It seemed like I got to know the characters and their motivations at a basic level, receiving depth when only relevant to the plot or story. However, this could be because I am not in this novel's target group. Despite this, Archer is a likable protagonist. He has faults and struggles like any 15-year-old boy and I loved his relationship with his siblings (I'm a sucker for older brother characters).

With an intriguing premise and solid world-building, young readers might enjoy this novel with allusions to spiritual warfare and a subtle faith-based thread/worldview. Just be prepared, this is the second title in a trilogy, so the conclusion will be something to look forward to!

Content notes: Typical fantasy violence --some scenes are kind of intense when you think about what's happening, but since most of it happened in the "dream world" I give it a pass, but it did give me pause.

[Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley for review purposes.]
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 7, 2015 – Finished Reading
December 17, 2015 – Shelved
December 17, 2015 – Shelved as: christian-fic-fantasy-and-sci-fi
December 17, 2015 – Shelved as: juv-fiction
December 17, 2015 – Shelved as: outread-aubrey-2015
December 17, 2015 – Shelved as: my-books
December 17, 2015 – Shelved as: e-books

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