Thursday, August 23, 2018

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August

Arlo Finch in the Valley of FireMy name is Arlo, and I've quickly discovered Pine Mountain can be a very dangerous place. I joined the Rangers, and my new friends have told me about the mysterious things found in the Long Woods. I've seen a ghost dog, and I was almost lured to my death by two wisps during my first Ranger campout! A young girl went missing eight years ago, and a reflection of her appeared in my bedroom. It can't be a coincidence that she had one green eye and one brown eye, just like me. Maybe that explains the creatures and language I can see that others cannot. I need to find out more about the girl and her disappearance, and I need to understand why monsters are being sent after me. Why would anyone be afraid of me and want me dead? It must have something to do with the eldritch lands and the Realm beyond the Long Woods. 

I randomly found this book on my library's shelf for new 2018 releases. The plot began as a tale about a magical forest but quickly evolved into a mystery. What happened to Katie Cunningham, and why was Arlo in danger? The book introduced clues along the way until it became clear that Arlo wasn't an ordinary kid. I imagine the inclusion of Rangers may not appeal to some readers, as scouting is not as popular as it used to be. However, the meetings, contests, and outings allowed camaraderie to develop between Arlo and the other characters. It was strange to hear the Rangers explain to Arlo how they weren't able to perform magic. Can you snap your fingers and create little bits of light and can you cast wards to protect yourself from monsters? Each member of his patrol offered unique talents, and together they became a special team. Arlo faced off against the mysterious antagonist in the climax, and a regional Ranger competition led into the resolution. Teamwork and spirit were key elements in the patrol's success. I enjoyed the mysterious magic in the plot, and I assume a sequel will be coming out in 2019. I think you should give it a shot.

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