Title: The Book of Wonders
Author: Jasmine Richards
Publisher: Harper Collins (January 17, 2012)
Source: ATW Arc Tours
Magic, Djinn, Ogres, and Sorcerers. Thirteen-year-old Zardi loves to hear stories about fantastical beings, long banned from the kingdom of Arribitha. But anyone caught whispering of their powers will feel the rage of the sultan—a terrifying usurper who, even with his eyes closed, can see all.
When her own beloved sister is captured by the evil ruler, Zardi knows that she must go to any lengths to rescue her. Along with her best friend, Ridhan—a silver-haired, violet-eyed boy of mysterious origins—and an unlikely crew of sailors led by the infamous Captain Sinbad, Zardi ventures forth into strange and wondrous territory with a seemingly impossible mission: to bring magic back to Arribitha and defeat the sultan once and for all.
I'm never quite sure how I'm going to feel about a Middle Grade book. Clearly, I love YA, but Middle Grades are hit or miss for me. I get nervous when Middle Grade is paired with other aspects that make me second guess whether I'll like a book, such as being high fantasy or longer than I expected (again, hit or miss mentality). I need not have worried. The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards is a solid hit.
As soon as I started the first chapter, I was eager to continue. There is an ease of storytelling present that makes the whole book flow seamlessly. Readers young and old will enjoy the epic adventure, energetic characters, smooth writing, and wonderful storytelling. This high fantasy tale is full of action. The main character, Zardi, loves stories of adventure with scary monsters and incredible feats of heroism. The Book of Wonders has all this, much to Zardi's delight and horror (it's a little different to face the scary monsters yourself than to hear about them from others).
Also, it was a fairly complex story. There were multiple story lines and paths the characters could have taken, but everything came together very well. Little side missions were carried out without losing sight of the overall goal, to save Zardi's sister.
In addition to the fantasy, this book was multicultural. I always love reading books set in different cultures, so this fact was a bonus for me. Richards merged multicultural aspects with the fantasy very well. These merged aspects completely transported me to Arribitha while I was reading. Well done.
Overall rating: Worth the buy. Borrow it if you're not as into Middle Grade.