I have to admit I was a little nervous about reading the first book in the Erec Rex series. I learned so much about the book and author from the blog tour that my expectations kept building up. Then I was afraid the book would disappoint me.
It didn't. And my head is spinning - the way it always does after I read a good book.
What is the story? All of the youth of the Kingdoms of the Keepers of magic have come together for contests that will forever change the lives of three boys and girls. King Piter, King Pluto, and Queen Ashona (triplets) have ruled the Kingdoms for five hundred years and are tired. The three winners of the contests will be the next rulers of the Kingdoms. Twelve-year-old Erec and his new friend Bethany are from Upper Earth - where the Losers/Forgetters of magic live. They join the contests when they find themselves in Alypium (one of the Kingdoms) while searching for Erec's missing adoptive mother. While participating in the contests, Erec and Bethany discover a plot to take over Alypium and the other Kingdoms, Aorth and Ashona.
The clever Ms. Kingsley sure knows how to keep readers hanging and wanting more! The story has an almost tangible atmosphere of mystery and suspense. I enjoyed conjecturing, using the many clues and hints in the story. :D You're not sure who the villains are until the very end of the book. (I got that guess wrong! The author had me there!) And even then so many questions are left unanswered. Who is Erec's father? Who is Erec's birth mother? What is Erec's real identity? What is Bethany's real identity? I must know! *bangs head on wall* The epilogue of the book is actually a peek into what happened ten years before the story of Erec and the dragon's eye. You see, the future rulers of the Kingdoms were supposed to be the triplets of King Piter. But the royal triplets and their mother, Queen Hesti, mysteriously disappeared...
It's a fun read! There are magical objects like Seeing Eyeglasses (they let you see and talk to the person you miss the most when you put them on) and Sneakers (they let you walk or run in perfect silence, and when someone is nearby you can stamp your feet and the Sneakers will throw sound into another room to lead that person off your track). There are creatures like a pink kitten that tells secrets; a really chatty, enormous duck; and a chess-playing dragon. There are cool contests like the Tribaffleon, which includes contestants being individually judged based on their inborn magical gifts. There is even "magical food" like ambrosia (fluffy white pudding with swirls of honey, sprinkled with nuts and raspberries), nectar (a drink that looks like sparkling honey), and cloudsicles (colored and flavored frozen mist that moves around a stick - it twirls in your mouth before melting!). I truly wondered at the inventiveness of Ms. Kingsley. :)
The Erec Rex series is inspired by Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Norse mythology. So it's also fun spotting all the allusions and parallels to mythology!
There's not much I didn't like about the book. I didn't like how the edition I read (the first paperback edition) had way too many typos. The ending felt a bit rushed. (Or was that because I wanted more?) And I found some of the bad guys (I'm not giving away who they are!) and one of the good guys corny.
I really like Erec Rex: The Dragon's Eye! It's a sweet escape and great entertainment. Every day after work, for almost two weeks, I savored a couple of chapters. (When I don't like a book, I read through it quickly - I want to finish it as soon as possible so I can move on to another book.) I truly can't wait to read the rest of the series. I am burning with curiosity about what really happened "ten years earlier" in Alypium!
P.S. I've already posted most of the links for the Kaza Kingsley blog tour. Here are the links to the three extra stops of the tour. :)
Day 14 - Kaleb Nation's official website
Day 15 - The Jay
Day 16 - Young Adults and Kids Books Central