Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

BOOK REVIEW: Beyond The Odyssey by Maz Evans

Short Review

Beyond the Odyssey follows the ongoing adventures of Elliot a young boy with big dreams and big issues, not only is he trying to save the world and retrieve the remaining Chaos Stones, he also has a house full of Greek Gods, a mother who is seriously ill, villains and evil doers coming out of the woodwork and a great journey before him. In Beyond the Odyssey Elliot is embarking on a mission to secure Panacea’s Potion a mystical potion that will cure all sickness – his journey takes him to the Island of the Cyclopes, to the depths of the sea and then full circle back to home farm, but will he be in time to thwart the devastation being caused by the one and only Patricia Horses Bum. What will happen on his quest…you better dig in and find out!

STORGY Typewriters 5/5

Books that you may also like – Who Let The Gods Out?, Simply the Quest (Maz Evans), Tin (Pádraig Kenny), Beetle Boy series (M.G. Leonard).

Films that share a similar theme you may also like Jason and the Argonauts, The Odyssey, Clash of the Titans (original) and Disney’s Hercules.

Long Review

Well what can I say about Beyond the Odyssey – other than it is proper bosh! The book is a fabulous addition to the quite already brilliant Who Let the Gods Out series – you can read our reviews of these books on our site too (Who Let the Gods Out & Simply The Quest).

Maz has delivered a book that is somewhat like Return of the Jedi with its cinematic, adventure appeal. Beyond the Odyssey has us journeying with Elliot as he embarks on a crazy mission to seek the potion that can heal his mother of her illness; whilst also expanding the universe Maz has deftly crafted in the proceeding books, introducing us to a whole host of new Gods, Immortals, creatures, Titans (think Jabba the Huts lair) and even more issues for Elliot to overcome. There are so many wonderful set pieces in this new adventure it’s a journey I never wanted to finish…but alas I had to, but now I am chomping at the bit to get back on that winged horse and discover what is going to happen in the fourth and final book!

I have loved these books, they have been a fabulous way of me engaging my daughter (who is seven) in reading and also about the wonder of Greek Mythology, we’ve enjoyed numerous times looking up the Gods and other mythological creatures and it is just another added dimension that the book has to offer. Beyond The Odyssey for me is a really special book, it had me reminiscing about many a lazy weekend when I was little watching Jason And The Argonauts / Clash of the Titans with my father. I remembered these days fondly as I read which really warmed my heart. I love my dad and looking back I am hugely appreciative of him sharing his enthusiasm with me and discovering with him these Gods and tales at a young age. It has really made me appreciate these books even more; it’s never too early to learn about these amazing stories – Maz has a way of making history relevant and fun and I pray that these books will inspire children to delve a little deeper and find out first hand the rich tapestry that Maz plucks the elements in her story from!

SPOILER ALERT

Turn back now…

I MEAN IT…SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT

As with all the books in this series Maz has included many issues that young people face today, in the first book we discover that Elliot is a young carer, in the second book we find out that he has a family member in prison. With Beyond the Odyssey we are brought crashing down to earth with an event that’s impact can disrupt everything Elliot and the Gods have been working so hard to achieve.

When I read chapter 30 I quite literally turned to my wife and said “What the Hell“, “Unbelievable“, “I just need to put this down for a moment, and start again tomorrow” – I can only sum it up saying that I felt like Joey out of Friends. I wanted to take the book and place it in the freezer and return to it another day. It was shocking but it’s something that is dealt with, with great assurance and empathetically by Maz. The following chapter explores the grief of a child, the fears, thoughts and actions of someone dealing with the biggest event in their lives – trying to exist in a world when things have been turned upside down. Maz writes Elliot in such a fabulous way that we really get into his mindset, we get to see what a child makes of loss, of grief and death – it’s a masterful piece of writing which again shows Maz at her very best.

This series of books are sublime – some of the best writing I have read aimed at this age group and with a real heart beating within, you will laugh, you will cry, you will be scared, you will learn about Greek Mythology and you will meet some fabulous friends along the way. For young people (roughly 7-11) looking to get stuck into a great series of books, I couldn’t recommend anything more highly than this delightful series; but the best bit about these books are that they can be enjoyed by all ages. The magic of this series of books is that they meet the intended reader (target age range) where they are, at their level, in a way they can understand.

Maz has expertly woven many ‘unspoken‘ pertinent issues young people are facing today within her story telling and in doing so has helped to show those going through similar issues that they are not alone. I can only hope that these books which are now widely being used in schools, will help to educate young minds around these issues and lessen the loneliness, stigma and bullying that is so often associated with them.

Maz Evans in my opinion is a phenomenal children’s writer; who has gone from strength to strength in this series of books. You can literally see her journey as an author too, as she delves deeper into her characters, deeper into Greek Mythology and deeper into the huge heart at the centre of the story – reminiscent of J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series, how over time they evolved and became more than just a children’s book. I can’t wait for the next instalment and to see what Maz turns her hand to after this fantastic voyage is finished. I for one, will be at the front of the queue whatever she writes next!

Beyond the Odyssey is beyond belief – it’s a book that has everything – an unputdownable beast that gives the reader what they want, but also keeps them asking for more!

Beyond the Odyssey is published by Chicken House Books and is available to purchase here.

Chicken-House-books-logo

Maz Evans

1371207588Mary_Evans-e1442931323707

Maz Evans writing career began in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer. She has written for many national titles and is a regular pundit on The Jeremy Vine Show. After working as a creative writing lecturer, she founded Story Stew, an anarchic creative writing programme that has visited primary schools and literary festivals around the UK, including Hay and Imagine. Maz lives in Dorset with her husband and four children.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

You can read our review of Who Let The Gods Out? here.

You can read our review of Simply The Quest here.

You can also read our interview with Maz Evans here.

You can follow STORGY KIDS by clicking on social media images below.

Unknown-1Unknown-2Unknown

Unlike many other Arts & Entertainment Magazines, STORGY KIDS is not Arts Council funded or subsidised by external grants or contributions. The content we provide takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce, and relies on the talented authors we publish and the dedication of a devoted team of staff writers. If you enjoy reading our Magazine, help to secure our future and enable us to continue publishing  the words of Children’s writers. If you would like to buy us a coffee you can by clicking the link below.

Your support, as always, continues to inspire.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s