This is a brilliantly fast-paced, action-packed adventure set in a wonderfully imagined forest society, brimming with intrigue, danger and humour which kept me engrossed throughout.
Eleven-year-old Casey Grimes tries really hard to be noticed by his classmates at Vintage Woods Middle School, but there’s a reason he’s ignored: he’s invisible to them – most of the time!
When exploring the local forest, Casey discovers an ancient oak tree with a hidden fortress in its branches. He brings his younger sister, Gloria, for a sleepover in the oak … and discovers a stranger, Luciana West who can see the siblings. The oak is a forgotten sentry tree which marks the boundary between the human world and Luciana’s world, a world which protects humans from monsters.
Luciana warns them against entering her forest home, Sylvan Wood but, determined to discover more about this new and compelling world, they follow her … and promptly find themselves fighting off terrifying creatures, but this does not stop these intrepid siblings from venturing further into Sylvan Woods where they discover the most incredible forest society …
The civilian children must hide their identity as they find themselves drawn into a war against monsters who have returned to Sylvan Woods after a hundred years. Will they be able to help their new friends defeat the frightening Butcher Beasts, and save both worlds?
I really liked the dichotomy between science and magic, and how this has divided the Sylvan society over the years as many have forgotten the old magic.
The world-building is incredibly rich and immersive, taking the reader into a wondrous natural, wild world where people live in the trees, attend a school where monster-fighting classes are held, where sentry trees protect the boundaries between worlds and where frightening monsters lurk.
Casey is a really likeable protagonist. He is determined, adventurous and courageous, and is looking for a sense of belonging. I love the relationship between Casey and his little sister, Gloria which is full of playfulness, kindness and support; it is so wonderful to see this positive relationship between siblings. I also enjoyed the growth of the friendship between Luci, who has her own secrets, and Casey as they learn to trust each and accept each other.
This is an fun, exciting adventure with a fascinating, action-packed plot. The ending gives me high hopes that there will be further adventures for Casey and his new friends.
Thank you to the author for sending me an e-copy in exchange for my honest opinion.