Note: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:
Title: An Unlikely Friendship (Book 1 of the Fidori Trilogy)
Author: Jasmine Fogwell
Publisher: Destinee S.A.
Release Date: April 8th, 2016
Genre: Young Reader, Fantasy, Illustrated
While living in the old inn of Nemeste, James discovers that he and his parents are not the only ones calling the inn home. On the third floor lives a mysteriously old lady named Rionzi DuCret. Though Rionzi is feared by the villagers and confined to her room, she and James strike up an unlikely friendship and soon discover that they have both befriended leafy, mushroom footed creatures in the woods called ‘Fidoris.’ But the friendship is threatened as Rionzi grows suspicious of James’s claim of a certain Fidori sighting. How could he have found out about her deepest secret? Have the villagers set a trap for her to finally prove that she is insane?
My First Thoughts:
I’m always looking for books for younger readers, because I understand that parents are always looking for books for their kids. So when the author came to me and asked for a review, I was pretty excited to read and share another kid’s book! After reading my last book, I was also looking for a light story full of fun and uplifting moments.
Growing up, the only chapter books I read as a kid were Magic Tree House and the American Girl Dairies. I never read any of the others, so I don’t have much experience with chapter books for young kids. With that being said, I found that this story was very average and followed exactly as the synopsis read. There were no surprises or twists. The story just followed the given path, which is fine, but it didn’t add any excitement to the book.
Ms. Fogwell’s writing style is a little amateurish, which is understandable because it’s her first published book. Every new author’s first book is very stiff or reads a bit awkwardly, especially if the books don’t go through professional editing. With that said, even though the author’s writing voice sounds amateurish, it’s honestly not that bad. Mostly, there were just details and words that I don’t think a young kid would pick up or know. Also, the pacing of the story was very slow and might have a hard time keeping a child’s attention, but that’s dependent on the child. There was some action, but it was mostly a lot of conversation between the little boy and the old lady, which might not hold well with younger kids. Again, I don’t have much experience in that area. However, for future works the author can maybe step away from a more dialogue driven story and write with being the bigger driver.
Another thing that threw me was the end. When I got to the end of the book I wasn’t really left with the sense of ‘oooo! I need the next book!’ Instead, I felt a bit off put by the ending because it was so sudden and a little out of nowhere. I understand the pieces that lead up to the final reveal, but it didn’t really have much of an effect on me and it didn’t leave me wanting more. Now, I would like to continue with the story because I’m curious about where the author will take it, but that curiosity was not initially there when I finished the book. A younger reader may be completely different and beg for the next book right away, or they may feel a bit ‘so what’ and not bother continuing.
I think the reason why I do want to continue this series is because the author spent so much time with the area and the lore. I loved what she had to say about the Fidori and the world building she did in An Unlikely Friendship, but I’m not sure kids will have the same fascination that I do. I remember when I was younger I didn’t care much for all the background information, I just wanted action. However, I think that this book would be received better by younger audiences if it were read to them.
The illustrations were interesting to look at, but they didn’t always appear in the right place. Sometimes the illustrations for a certain scene would appear before the scene actually occurred, which through me off and out of the story a few times. I’m not sure why they were out of place, but if they were moved closer to their actual scenes then it they might better help illustrate the story.
Overall, I’m not sure what kids would actually think of this book. I think the best approach, is for it to be read to children by their parents or teachers. I think that An Unlikely Friendship would be a wonderful book for kids to hear. However, if kids have to read this book on their own it may or may not have a hard time keeping their interest for all 100 plus pages.
For older audiences, if you enjoy magic and lore then this book may entertain you. There are some obvious flaws that the writer can easily approve upon with practice, but the world building is quite wonderful and the story would be interesting to follow or the lore alone. For those who aren’t into lore very much, then this book would not suit you very well.
For a first novel, An Unlikely Friendship is a good start for Ms. Fogwell. The lore is interesting to read about and I’m curious to find out more about the Fidori! Her voice will grow with time along with her writing style; I hope to read her later books to see how she improves.