Author: P. D. Kalnay
Genre: MG/YA Fantasy
Length: 138 Pages
Release: January 2016
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
This was a really fun middle grade story. It follows Jack, a young boy who is sent to live with his grandmother in her Inn when his parents get tired of him. The Inn, which is inside an old mansion, is mysterious and enticing for a young person wanting adventure. There are also some intriguing guests: Ivy, a girl who has never watched TV, doesn't know about the internet, and seems to speak in code. And Mr Ryan, a business man who happens to be an expert at martial arts.
I've always been intrigued by old houses and thought it would be fun to explore one, so that aspect of this novel was a lot of fun. The Inn reminds me a lot of Biltmore Estate (a house in NC), which I've toured before. I'm not sure if this Inn is supposed to be quite that big, but it's what I imagine.
The characters and mystery throughout the story were fun and kept me interested from beginning to end. It felt more like a setup for the next book than an entire standalone story, although I wasn't disappointed with the ending. Most of the first half or so was leading up to the big reveal toward the end. Jack has stumbled into a mystery far bigger than even he could have imagined. And Ivy, the odd cute girl staying over the summer, is right in the middle of it all.
Jack is the first person narrator of the story, so you have to pick up things and piece the story together from his observations. Sometimes the things that he overlooks can be important, and as a reader you will figure things out before he does. At times I felt that Jack was a little too gifted in certain aspects, picking up new skills almost without trying, but he was well written and flawed enough that I didn't mind overly much.
The story revolves around a mystery with fantasy elements that become more apparent as the story progresses. As the first novel in a series, I think this was a great read. Again, it's not a perfect standalone, but that is not its purpose. It's just the beginning of a new fantasy adventure that middle grade and young adult readers will enjoy. I highly recommend picking up this authors books, you won't be disappointed.