A fair, heroic fantasy for the school-age demographic.


A mysterious earthquake catapults the modern-day Riverton family into the fantasy realm of Trimoria, where their latent magical abilities put them in peril from the reigning dark sorcerer.

First-time author Rothman launches the first in a proposed series with the saga of the Riverton family, a seemingly average American household who—along with their faithful cat—are on one of dad’s “edu-taining” vacation trips. While exploring caves in Arizona, a strange earthquake thrusts them into another world. It’s the magic-ridden land of Trimoria, a medieval, feudal town full of dangerous swamps, mysterious forests and ancient rituals. It’s overseen by Azazel, a dangerous warlock who maintains deadly vigilance against any force that might oppose him. The Rivertons find refuge with Trimoria’s sherifflike “First Protector,” a giant of a good guy named Throll, and determine that their presence in this place has granted each of the Rivertons (even the cat) extraordinary powers. One teen son has super-strength, the other can wield energy blasts; dad appears to be an advanced wizard, while mom can heal almost any wound. It seems the family is part of a long-repeated prophecy of newcomers who will overturn Azazel’s despotic reign. Prophecies come rather thick and fast in the plot—lucky encounters and diaries tend to give away much of the game early and prosaically. We learn little of Azazel, the nemesis who had looked to be the most intriguing character; he did a deal with an enticing dark-elf queen centuries ago to gain immortality and power. He almost regrets it. The Rivertons prove to be angst-free, super-competent types who adapt to enchanted life easily, without missing Earth much. A virtuous, outcast ogre rounds out the team. Rothman’s language and description are precise and well-tuned to an adolescent readership, even if much of the mid-portion only lays the groundwork for the prophesized next chapters in the series.

A fair, heroic fantasy for the school-age demographic.

Pub Date: June 1, 2012


Page Count: 443

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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A witty addition to the long-running series.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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