In this debut YA fantasy novel, a group of cousins carry on a family legacy of battling evil in a fantastic kingdom.
Eighteen-year-old Tyler Scott awakens during the night as an intense storm rages outside. He’s been having a recurring dream about sea horse–like creatures pulling a giant sailing ship through blue fog. He saw the same ship in real life while he was looking through his father’s powerful telescope. It turns out that his dad, professor Caleb Scott, knows all about the mysterious Blue Galleon. Twenty-one years ago, he and his siblings, Ella and Remy, traveled in it to the realm of Turena, the home of the Nature Keepers, who govern the powers of life and death on Earth. There, they fought for the Light Keepers against the Dark Keepers. A generation later, the Light Keepers need more help from the Scott family, which includes Tyler; his 15-year-old sister, Samara; and their cousins, Cyrus (17), Mantha (15), Maggie (10), and Noah (8). The six kids, along with Abigail, Caleb’s departmental assistant, travel to Turena on the Blue Galleon. Each carries a powerful artifact, such as Mantha’s Waterstone Ring, which can turn her invisible. Queen Alexandra enlists the clan to retrieve the Scepter of Light from the lair of the evil Barrell, who’s closer than ever to creating lasting darkness. For this series opener, Kirkland presents an engaging, structured world for young nature enthusiasts to explore. Real-life astronomical facts (about the blue-moon phenomenon, for example) accompany striking fantasy tableaux, including the Sea of Clouds, where “jellyfish floated into the sky like translucent, pastel-colored balloons, their tentacles fluttering like silk ribbons.” The tale’s central message that “the actions of humans can also influence Nature” is an important one for young readers to grasp. Kirkland’s large cast never feels like a faceless squad because the author fleshes out everyone carefully—from Markis, Keeper of the Light, to Baybourn, queen of the wasp warriors. Well-crafted relationships between characters and the seeding of important concepts throughout should win over fantasy fans looking for a fresh series.
A boisterous, environmentally savvy adventure.