Hi everyone, I don’t know about you but fantasy stories always build so many expectations for me. How many of you have seen the movie Labyrinth with a teenage Jennifer Connelly and effervescent David Bowie? I know this movie has its own following for the music, costumes, Escher-style set etc, but what gripped me was the fear the sister faced in losing her baby brother!! So I thought why not see if there were similar fantasy/adventure stories out there. I hope you enjoy the titles I found!!
Well, the first title I’d like to feature is The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver. You could say it reads a lot like Labyrinth with a similar quest to an underworld swarming with strange and weird creatures. Our protagonist, Liza, wakes up to find her brother Patrick has changed overnight. She knows that the Spindlers have stolen his soul and she has to be the one to save him!! There are some really cool descriptions of the strange lands she finds herself in with a talking rat, flying creatures that guard our souls and the evil Spindlers intent on keeping her brother’s soul. If you enjoy fantasy mixed with mythology, you will enjoy this fascinating read!!
In The castle in the mist by Amy Ephron readers are taken into a sleepy village in the English countryside where they meet Tess and her brother Max as they spend their summer at their aunts’ house. While exploring one day the siblings find an old brass key that unlocks a gate that leads them to a wild adventure and a strange boy named William. This is the first in a trilogy of reads filled with magic, fantasy, but mostly about those bonds that make up a family. For fans of magical realism mixed in with a strong family bond, like me, this is the perfect read!!
The next read, The Lost Children by Gillian Philip is also the first in a series. Featuring siblings Molly and Jack, who arrive at their rich relatives house on Ravenstorm Island and are expected to get along with their moody cousin Arthur. Things seem strange but get even worse when Jack disappears – and no one remembers he ever existed! It’s up to Molly and Arthur to uncover the dark and dangerous secret of Ravenstorm while trying everything to save Jack!! Now I don’t know about you, but having grown up with the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton, this book gave me some similar vibes as I read it!! Filled with suspense and mystery tinged with magic, I found this a series I wanted to get my teeth into.
The next read, I think I’ve featured it before. In Darkling Wood by Emma Carroll is written in her signature style and gives more than one story. One takes place in the present day with Alice and her younger brother Theo while the other takes place in 1918 where a young girl awaits her brother’s return from the Front. Filled with family secrets, tragic events and some magical episodes, this read is one that will pull at your heartstrings!! If you and your tween enjoy sibling stories with ghosts and a little bit of fantasy mixed in, then you’ll love his read!!
And lastly, The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi is one that will transport you to another world entirely!! Farah is your typical Bangladeshi-American twelve-year-old trying to fit in yet trying to stay true to her own culture when she and her friends are hurtled into a magical realm. With vibes of the movie Jumanji (all versions!!), it takes us through different levels of the game; each with mind-boggling challenges that sometimes creep you out while trying to stay sane and alive, all the while keeping one eye open for Farah’s little brother Ahmed. Being a South Asian myself, the snippets of Bengali language and culture made this a thrilling read!! I really loved everything in this book; the characters, themes of family and friendship, and the heart-pounding storyline!! Spoiler alert: There is also a companion sequel of sorts to this featuring an older Ahmed!!
Well, those are the adventure and fantasy reads I found. If anyone has read similar titles I would love to hear from you.
Stay safe and keep reading