Early Book Review: The Legend of Jack Riddle by H. Easson

The Legend of Jack Riddle by H. Easson is a middle grade novel currently scheduled for release on March 1 2018. So what if 12-year-old Jack’s great-great-great-great-great aunt has oddly youthful looks? (Probably cosmetic surgery.) Or a hat she never removes? (Fashion victim.) Or goes out into the creepy forest at midnight to play bingo? (Must be what people do in the country.) Who cares about that when her cottage doesn’t even have Wi-Fi?! Forced to visit his distant relative with the unusual name of Gretel, Jack is about to find out that fairy tales aren’t sparkly, cheesy love stories. They’re dark. They have claws. They’re a warning. And when you’re the unwilling hero of your own fairy tale, you might be the one who’s taught a nasty lesson.

The Legend of Jack Riddle is a fantasy adventure that starts as the typical coming of age and fantasy quest or adventure story. I liked that Jack was a bit like the stereotypical tween, glued to his phone and craving the independence and fun more young people want. However, he is much more. He is facing family challenges, but not the same issues that most kids in these stories face, but more emotional and identity based troubles. I liked the threads of well known stories, but how they are interwoven with typically unrelated stories. As a fairy tale and legend fan, I was glad to see twists I had not seen before, along side some that were like old friends. I enjoyed Jack's evolution, and the growth he had as an individual and how he relates to others. I found the professor and other secondary characters, to be very well developed and interesting rather than the place holder characters that sometimes populate the backgrounds of books. I think young readers, and those of us older than the target audience, can get lost in the story and enjoy it thoroughly. 

The Legend of Jack Riddle is a fun and entertaining read for middle grade readers, and older children and adults as well. A nice fantasy adventure that could also encourage further reading in legends and fairy tales as well. 

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