It is my turn on The Write Reads blog tour of the first book in the Casey Grimes series The Mostly Invisible Boy. This is some middle-grade fantasy filled with monsters, tree climbing and fighting! So come and join us in this adventure!
I would like to give my thanks and appreciation to the author AJ Vanderhorst, the publishers, and Dave & The Write Reads gang for the eARC and additional information that I need for this tour.
About the book
Title: The Mostly Invisible Boy
Series: Casey Grimes #1
Author: AJ Vanderhorst
Genre: Middle-grade, Fantasy
Length: 307 pages
Publishers: Lion & Co.
Stars: 3.5 out of 5
Trigger warning: It’s quite violent for a middle-grade book
Eleven-year-old Casey is stubbornly friendly, but he’s eternally the new kid at Vintage Woods Middle School. Students look right through him—and they’re not faking. Casey doesn’t know why he’s mostly-invisible, but when he scales a colossal oak, he discovers a fortress in its branches. The forgotten sentry tree marks the border between his safe, suburban life and a fierce frontier.
Casey and his little sister Gloria infiltrate Sylvan Woods, a secret forest society devoted to ancient, wild things. Sky-high footpaths. Survival sewing. Monster control. Shockingly, people here actually see Casey—but being seen isn’t enough. He wants to belong.
Keeping his identity hidden–while struggling to prove he fits–is hard enough, but Butcher Beasts have returned to Sylvan Woods after a hundred years. Trickery is under siege. As the monsters close in, and the fearsome Sylvan Watch hunts Casey down, he and his newfound friends must unearth abandoned magic, buried at the forest’s roots…or be devoured along with everyone else, Sylvans and civilians alike.
A fast-paced middle grade fantasy/adventure book with all the monsters kids could ever hope for.
The setting: I absolutely love the setting – there’s so much we get to see and experience through this shorter read. The Sylvan Woods are magical, but my absolute most favourite place is the colossal oak we’re introduced to early on. We’re also introduced to the Trickery School, which is where we learn about survival sewing and how to fight monsters.
Characters: We meet a wide variety of characters. The Sylvan people are a feisty bunch, and I enjoyed the interaction between Casey – who hasn’t been used to be noticed for some time – and the confrontational Sylvan kids we meet in the story. Ms Crake is cool, and I am looking forward to seeing what they’ll do with Ms Jones.
Monsters: The monsters are very imaginative and very fun/dangerous!
That sibling relationship: I just can’t. This is just too cute. Little sister Gloria is a sweetheart and has a mind of her own, and she has a great love for her big brother. Casey does come across as selfish quite a lot (but hey, what can you expect from a pre-teen boy?) yet he cares for his sister and does come to some realisations about her which he didn’t think of before the beginning of their summer vacation.
The not so good
The pacing: It is a very fast-paced story, but as I mentioned before, I love the setting and we don’t get to enjoy it as much due to the speed of how everything is told and I don’t get to savour the Trickery School!
The strength of these kids: As someone who has played Dungeons & Dragons, it did irk me a bit when these kids are walking around with swords, maces, spears and bow and arrows. Where do they keep them and how can they carry them around? It must be magic.
The ending: I feel the ending was rushed and too neat. I am aware that this is the first book of a series and we need to get an idea as to what to expect, but it was all just a bit too neat.
My overall thoughts
This is definitely an enjoyable read, and I do recommend it. As mentioned the pacing is very fast and we get a brief introduction to a lot of this world, I am just looking forward to how this world will be explored in the future. So for now, I’ll check out more of this series 🙂
About the author : AJ vanderhorst
AJ Vanderhorst has had many jobs, including journalist, paramedic, escape artist, and baby whisperer. One time in fifth grade, he built a traffic-stopping fort in a huge oak tree, using only branches and imagination, and slept there for a week.
Now he and his wife live in a woodsy house with their proteges and a ridiculous number of pets, including a turtle with a taste for human toes. This makes AJ an expert on wild, dangerous things—invisibility spells, butcher beasts, hungry kids, you get the idea.
He is the only author in the world who enjoys pickup basketball and enormous bonfires, preferably not at the same time. He and his family have drawn up several blueprints for their future tree castle. Visit AJ online at ajvanderhorst.com.
What does AJ Vanderhorst have to say on Goodreads?
“No stars from me for obvious reasons. 🙂
This is a book I’ve lived with for a long time…years now. I hope I can say this about every book I write, but: this one is close to my heart. If this book was a person, I’d describe it as feisty, whimsical, heart-on-the-sleeve and a little crazy.
My editors, beta-readers and kids have described it as “inventive, believably adventurous, full of heart, rollicking, vivid, a book you want to live in, witty, funny and scary.”
Even though April 2020 wasn’t a wonderful time to send a baby book out into the world, I’m overjoyed that you all have the chance to read it.”
I just wanted to add this, since I thought it was very cute 🙂
Happy reading ❤