Review: The Book of Chaos by Jessica Renwick

Note: In exchange for an honest review, I received a digital copy of this book from the author.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Young Fable Nuthatch can’t understand why she has to hide her talent. It’s almost like her Aunt Moira is afraid of Fable’s gift, and moved the family all the way to Larkmoor just to keep her from using it. Fable just wants to be accepted for what she is: magic. But when Fable finds herself lost and alone, on a quest to save her cousin and face Starfell’s most powerful villain, she realizes her Aunt may have been hiding her from something much darker than she could have imagined. Joined by some unexpected companions, Fable sets out to learn who she is and just what she can do.

IS IT WORTH THE READ?

When Jessica Renwick flitted through my suggested feed on Instagram last year, I had no idea what to expect from her work. At the time I was teaching literacy to two handfuls of elementary students, and neck deep in children’s literature. Now, out of the classroom and in the public-library world, I’m still looking for quality books to add to my growing Children’s Library. So, when Jessica put out a line asking for readers and reviewers for The Book of Chaos I knew I had to jump on it!  

Many books set in a magical world rely on the same cast of mythical characters, but author Jessica Renwick has stepped outside the usual to bring readers the delightfully unusual. As Fable journeys through treacherous forests and lairs, she is joined by Thorn – a meditating, vegetarian, yogi giant with a knack for scavenging. On the other end of the height scale is the firehawk Star – a fire-breathing hen who can read auras and has a particular fondness for shiny things. These are not the only cases of Renwick’s character development, but they are certainly an example of the wonderful creativity she brings to mid-level readers.

Speaking of mid-level readers, is there any other time in life when emotions are that difficult to communicate? Fable’s inner struggle for identity and acceptance as a magical-person, and the strained relationship with her guardian Aunt Moira will certainly hit home with young readers. Renwick’s use of language is accessible, clear, and elegant; there is no two ways about the characters’ emotions or conflicts.

Out of five, I give The Book of Chaos four stars. In one sitting I inhaled this book and all of its dynamic characters, heartfelt emotion, and wonderfully fresh take on the magical universe. At times the book could become a little dialogue-heavy, leaving me hazy on what was happening in the moment. This quality may not affect younger readers as much, however. Realizing this is only the first book in a series (the second book, The Guitar of Mayhem, is set to release September of 2019) I’m looking forward to the continued adventures! 

WHAT NEXT?

Here you can download a lightweight discussion guide for The Book of Chaos as well as some activity suggestions for a more hands-on learning experience.

If you’re looking for similar reads, follow the links below for some suggestions:

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Happy Reading!
– Bekah

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