I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.
Brian, Anna, Marc and Cecily stumble into a wizard’s spell and are swept to the Magicatory, the magical factory/laboratory where everything is made. Too bad they picked a lousy time to visit! A mysterious girl and a horde of goblins is planning an attack, one of the shape-shifting mages has been kidnapped, and a crazed dodo bird is on the loose. Now the lost siblings have to figure out how to use their new superpowers before the multiverse is destroyed and they can never return to Earth!
The Magicatory has an interesting way of telling the story as well as an interesting story. With the book focused on the four siblings traveling from earth to another world, one might say that it is similar to Narnia, however that is where the similarities end.
In the opening pages, though we are greeted with an enthusiastic storyteller, we are also greeted with lots of superstition mixed in equally with facts as well as a strong support of evolution. With the storyteller talking to “us” about facts (labradoodles for example) just as much as the superstitions many people have believed throughout the years (loch ness monster for example), as though it is all completely real it, it is hard to discern if the author intended this book to be a completely fantasy novel (set in a fantasy earth) or a real earth with a fantasy story. Because of that, it may be very hard for the intended audience (middle graders) to understand the definition of fantasy.
I also mentioned that there is a strong support of evolution, and when I say this, I am referring to dates. The Magicatory is where everything is “created” and then “shipped” to earth; therefore taking out the evolving aspect evolution. However the dates for when everything was “shipped” are in line with the beliefs of evolution.
Had this book taken place in a fantasy world, where earth did not exist, I could forgive this a little easier; however because the question of our existence and the answer of evolution is being pushed so hard on our children, this is yet another novel that may make it harder on the children to choose which to believe; Creation or Evolution? Especially at such a young age.
As for the story, without my personal beliefs, it is a lot of fun to read. The storyteller is quite engaging and makes for an entertaining link into the Magicatory. The author has a fun writing voice and the characters are a mixture of sweet and troublesome, which adds to the adventure. However, it is very inconsistent with its point-of-view choices. One chapter is written in both a mix of 1st person and 2nd person; and then bounces around using 3rd for the majority of the story, with a few places “popping in” of 1st and 2nd, all throughout the book. To a middle grader, this may be a very entertaining way to tell the story, and it does indeed flow well with the story, but it breaks a lot of rules of English and once again may be confusing to the child as they are learning how to write.
So taking everything into consideration, though this may be an entertaining story to middle graders, there is not much here that they will benefit from and much that may cause confusion. In addition to it going against my own beliefs, I can only give The Magicatory 2 out of 5 stars.