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I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Andy Smithson, an average video-game loving ten-year-old, finds himself mysteriously transported to a (parallel?) fantasy world called Oomaldee in order to break a 500 year curse. Andy has the adventure of his life while in Oomaldee, a Camelot-esque kingdom, makes new friends, takes a daring journey, faces danger around every corner, and learns a lot about himself in the process.
I love the concept behind this middle-grade story. I think it would be most appreciated by its target audience (8-12 years old) for it's sense of humor and adventure. The story also teaches moral lessons (see: the inneru, etc., as well as the author's link to discussion questions) and we see Andy grow as a character over the course of his adventure. We also get some interesting supporting characters. For example, the King dresses like Steve Jobs and we don't really know if he's good or bad. We also have Mermin, cousin of Merlin. He has a speech impediment something like the Priest from The Princess Bride, but not quite so extreme.
Then, there's Alden with his neon-green hair, which marks him as an outsider. He makes an excellent companion to Andy, but I really wish he had more moments to shine in his own right. There are also a lot of fart jokes - a lot of fart jokes.
As for the curse, I don't think it sounds all that bad - the King and Mermin seem to be immortal, they just can't leave the castle and there's also incredibly thick fog which can only be cut by cow farts. Their people are also safe. Doesn't sound that bad to me - could have been so much worse considering the rest of the story line, which could get kind of violent.
I also enjoyed the setting, but I want to know more about it. Is it a parallel world, another dimension, in the future, in the past? What/where/when exactly does it exist? There are so many references to real and fantasy people, places, and creatures that it makes me wonder. Also the language - the Knights we meet say "dude" - usually Knights don't say things like that, so it really makes me wonder.
Overall, I enjoyed this sword and sorcery fantasy story and I may be back to see what happens in the second book. However, I would recommend it to younger middle-grade fantasy fans, as long as they don't mind obvious moral lessons with their adventure.
I read this book from August 10 - 19, 2014 and my review is also available on Goodreads.