Today, I’m bringing you a batch of mini-reviews for some middle grade novels I’ve read recently. I have to say, before 2020, I really didn’t get into middle grade books beyond the wildly popular ones. Then I joined in with the Middle Grade Marvels group and I’ve discovered some truly incredibly tales! I’m loving being able to chat about this wonderful books as we read and, honestly, middle grades are just good for the soul. They’re usually so freaking wholesome and, sometimes, that’s just what you need.
The books I’ll be reviewing today are the first three Middle Grade Marvels picks from 2021. Because I’m v. behind on my reviews 😅 That being said, why don’t we jump in!
We kicked off the year with a pretty amazing pick! A Pinch of Magic follows the Widdershins sisters, Betty, Charlie, and Fliss. Betty wants to explore the world beyond their small town, but her grandmother has strictly forbidden it. Through a series a misadventures, Betty finds out why: all Widdershins are curse to die if they ever leave their town of Crowstone. Now Betty and her sisters are determined to find a way to counteract this curse and they are racing against the clock.
This was a lot of fun to read and, I have to say, much darker than the cover would lead you to believe! Which I kind of loved, if I’m being honest. I had a lot of fun following the Widdershins on their spooky adventure. There were moments where Betty could get under my skin. She’s headstrong and makes some rather impulsive decisions. I had to remind myself constantly that we all do dumb stuff at that age… though maybe not so life-threatening.
Overall, I loved getting to know all three of the sisters and I really enjoyed the story. The pacing was great, the atmosphere was wonderfully developed, and it had a very satisfying ending. It’s a strong start to a middle grade series and I’m definitely interested in reading more about the Widdershins!
This was such a sweet, little book. This story features another group of young girls, though this time it is Octavia Bloom, her sister, and her two female cousins that get sucked into an adventure. After discovering a magical door in the attic of the castle where they have always lived, Octavia learns that her family is part of an ancient treaty between humans and the faerie world. But there are more secrets than that to discover and, to find the truth and help heal her fractured family, Octavia must travel through the magical door to face a dark and mysterious danger.
I think the thing that this book does best is getting you to fall in love with the characters. The author has crafted such an interesting and compelling group of girls on which this story centers. I found myself really invested in their story and was eager to know how it ended! Unfortunately, what this book suffered from was a bit of a pacing problem. At times, it felt like things were progressing at a good pace and then, suddenly, we would be going at breakneck speed! The ending especially felt very rushed, which kind of took me out of the story. The world-building could be a bit heavy-handed, as well, but the world we got to see was absolutely incredible!
Overall, this was a fun, fast read that will definitely spark your imagination. Though it feels rushed at times, it’s still a wonderful, whimsical story that will keep you interested from page one!
If you’re looking for a spooky middle grade that kind of has the feel of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, then you should definitely check out this one! Nightbooks follows a young boy named Alex who, after a late night excursion out of his New York apartment, finds himself trapped by a witch who lives in his building. To keep himself alive, Alex has to appease the witch with the scary stories he has written in what he calls his “nightbooks”. But there are only so many stories and, once he runs out, his life is forfeit. Alex must find a way to escape before it’s too late.
This was such a fun and creepy read! I loved the fact that we got to read Alex’s scary stories. There were some properly freaky ones peppered throughout this book and it was awesome! I also loved watching Alex learning to embrace who he is and not who he thinks he should be. My favorite part of this story was probably his relationship with his fellow prisoner, Yasmin. It was a bit of sweetness wrapped in all the creepiness that is this book. Though the ending felt a tad rushed, I still enjoyed my time with this story and was kind of sad to see it end!
Overall, this was the perfect blend of scary and tender. It definitely makes me want to read other books by this author!
Have you read any of these middle grade books? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments!
And, as always, happy reading!