Carlousia: The Passing of the Guard
by E.G. Carter
Summary: Eddie Caskitt is filled with relief. The worries of moving into a new neighborhood, making friends, and starting a new school have been weighing him down. But after spending just a few minutes with the kids of Drayton Woods, Eddie realizes that the adventurous summer he was hoping for might just happen after all. Eddie hopes all the fun he anticipates will ease the pain of knowing his grandfather is dying.
With his last bit of strength before he passes away, Eddie 's grandfather whispers that he has left something for Eddie in his barn and that the tall tales he has been telling Eddie for years are true. With the help of a magic bracelet he finds inside a secret hole in the barn, Eddie and his two new friends, Dan and Scotty, enter a portal where they are suddenly thrust into roles guarding the world of Carlousia. Now the boys must conquer fear, outwit predators, unfold betrayal, and overthrow evil all while pretending everything is normal at home.
In this extraordinary adventure, three boys take a wild, coming-of-age journey that intertwines risk, honor, loyalty, and the kind of danger that unfortunately may lead to unimaginable loss.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When I received an offer to review this book, I was incredibly excited. I love middle grade/ young adult fantasy and this book had a lot of praise from well known people. Unfortunately, I couldn’t share their enthusiasm. It was incredibly difficult for me to finish this book and it saddens me because it had the potential to be absolutely amazing. I felt like all of the pieces were there, but none of it was executed well.
The way the story was written bothered me from the beginning and it took me quite awhile to finally put my finger on what the problem was. Everything felt forced and I felt like every new thing was being explained to me in exhausting detail, sucking every bit of magic from it. I thought maybe I was being harsh at first because it is a middle grade book and perhaps some of the things needed to be explained in order for younger readers to make sense of it all, but then I realized that I’ve never read a middle grade fantasy that has made me feel this way. There was an entire chapter on figuring out the time difference between Carlousia and the regular world and how time elapses in each world. I’ve encountered this phenomenon in other books, namely those that deal with the world of faeries, and none of them have exhausted the explanation the way that Carlousia did for me. Another long section of a chapter deal with explaining a magical weapon in Carlousia that could have been summed up in less than a sentence. I usually praise books with detail and long, flowing explanations of new surroundings, but this felt different to me.
In addition, I was unable to connect with any of the characters. I felt like depth and conflicted was being presented, especially between Dan and his younger sister, but I still felt as if all of them fell short and ended up being pretty flat. I didn’t like the way dialogue was exchanged and the way the characters interacted. It seemed really hokey in many places and unrealistic.
I hate to be so critical of a book, but I was really disappointed with it and had such high hopes. Had the idea been executed differently and not so overly explained in minute detail, perhaps I would have given this a much better review. I would not recommend this book to anyone.