A BREATH OF MISCHIEF, by MarcyKate Connolly, Sourcebooks Young Readers, April 4, 2023, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
A young windling sets out to save the Wind in A Breath of Mischief, MarcyKate Connolly’s new fantasy adventure for middle readers.
Aria is raised by the Wind. She grew up in a castle, floating among the clouds with creatures of the air. She spends her days racing and soaring through the sky with her best friend, Gwyn, a young gryphling. At night, she falls asleep to the music of the Wind.
One morning, Aria is woken by a frantic Gwyn. The chimes are silent, there is not a breath of breeze, and their castle has settled on the ground. The Wind has vanished.
Aria and Gwyn go on a desperate search only to discover the Wind is being held captive by a sinister alchemist named Worton. To free the Wind, Aria and Gwyn must complete a series of trials to find and retrieve three magical talismans for Worton.
Nothing will keep Aria from rescuing the element who raised her ― not a riddle, not a quest, not a race against time. Except Worton can’t be trusted, and it’s not just the Wind that needs saving… —Synopsis provided by Sourcebooks Young Readers
There are two kinds of middle-grade magic — books that are so magical, that even adults can’t put them down, and books that are magical for young readers, even if adults don’t love them. A Breath of Mischief falls into the latter category.
For example, some of the tasks Aria undertakes are fairly straightforward. As an adult, I would probably like some more twists. Kids, though, especially those who are just advancing into true novels, like some tasks to be clear. It doesn’t make the author’s approach wrong; it just means she knows her audience.
And MarcyKate Connolly does know her audience. She’s created a strong framework in which children’s imaginations are allowed to go wild.
In Aria, readers find a flawed but likeable protagonist who discovers more about her world and friendships than she ever thought possible.
A Breath of Mischief reads like a breath of fresh air. It’s a fast-moving fantasy that will likely appeal to a wide cross-section of middle readers, particularly those who are new to the fantasy genre.
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