Children's Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction

BOOK REVIEW: The Fire Maker by Guy Jones

– Short Review –

Alex is being bullied at school by his former best friend, Freddie.  His Mum and Dad have split up and he lives with his father but he’s so busy with work that he barely notices that Alex is there.  Everything is okay though as he still has his magic.  When he stumbles across a trio of mysterious fire creatures they seem the perfect way to win the Young Magician of the Year contest and impress the judge, and his hero, Jack Kellar.
Sometimes though your heroes turn out to be anything but……
If you like the “How to Train Your Dragon” series by Cressida Cowell you might like this

– Longer Review –

The three word summary from Chicken House is “Magic Friendship Adventure” and, once again, they’ve summed it up nicely.
We start the book with Alex running away from his former best friend, Freddie, who’s roped in a couple of other mates to give Alex a hiding as he’s blown the whistle on their bullying.  As he searches for a hiding place he stumbles into someone’s back garden and encounters three mysterious floating and fiery orbs.  He has no idea what they are but feels a strange connection to them.
Not that he’s got time to dwell on the matter for too long as he’s got the regional heats for “Magician of the Year” to prepare for.  Magic is the most important thing in is life – not surprising really as he seems to have made a bunch of enemies at school and his Dad is so absorbed by his work that he barely even notices that Alex is there.  His Mum is more interested but he doesn’t see her that often.
No wonder that he so fervently admires famous TV magician, Jack Kellar.  He’s a master of the craft, a sorcerer extraordinaire.  He’s also a judge at the regional heat.
Despite everything that’s going on though, he’s drawn back to the mysterious orbs and ends up being discovered in the back garden by the property’s owner – the somewhat eccentric Mr Olmos.  His house is a treasure trove of the unusual, a labyrinth of mystery and he lets Alex into a secret.  The mysterious orbs are Ifrit, aka juvenile Genies, and he is their guardian and keeps them safely locked away for their own safety.  After all, we all know that genie’s are powerful creatures and, for their own safety, must not fall into the wrong hands.
When Alex decides that he needs a really special trick to impress the judging panel you can see why his ambitions lead him to misusing one of the Ifrit.  Jack Kellar is suitably impressed but when Mr Olmos’ house is ransacked shortly afterwards Alex has to draw the inevitable conclusion that his hero is not all that he seems.
Suddenly it’s up to him and Mr Olmos to save the imperilled Ifrit and ensure that their powers are not abused.
What follows is a dramatic finale which proves friendships, uncovers hidden powers and creates the most sensational final for Young Magician of the Year ever.
It’s a cracker of a book, a proper page turner and has just the right mix of magic and down to earth charm.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

The Fire Maker is published by Chicken House Books more information is available here.

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Guy Jones

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Guy Jones was born in Botswana, grew up in Bedfordshire and now lives in St Albans with his wife and step-daughter. He spent a decade writing for the theatre, including the West End musical Never Forget, before finally knuckling down to write a book.

Reviewed by Angela Paull

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