Friday, February 15, 2008

New Release Spotlight: The Candy Shop War

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

“Moon Rocks,” Trevor said. “I want to try.” He stuck his candy into his mouth and jumped hard. He launched up into the limbs of the tree above, catching hold of one to stop his ascent. “Whoa!” he called from his lofty perch. “It felt like I was heading into orbit.”

These days, it’s hard to find an inventive children’s fantasy novel, or at least one that doesn’t have the feel of a Harry Potter repeat. Author Brandon Mull had managed to pull it off, though, with his new book The Candy Shop War. Though the typical fantasy elements are there—magic, wizards, potions, spells, a quest for treasure—Mull puts a fresh twist on the traditional elements, creating a exciting journey to the last page of the book.

Nate, Trevor, Pigeon, and Summer are ordinary fifth graders, living in a small town, dealing with bullies, parents, teachers, and loads of homework. But all of that changes when they visit the new candy shop. Mrs. White, the owner of the candy shop, befriends the foursome, and lets the kids in on a secret—that she can make magical candy. In exchange for doing a few “odd” jobs—collecting magic beetle eggs, “borrowing” a town relic from the local museum—Mrs. White shares the candy. Rock candy that makes you feel as if you’re walking on the moon. Chocolate drops that change your appearance. Jawbreakers that make you invincible. And fudge that makes parents ease up on the rules and teachers forget to assign homework.

Once the foursome gains her trust, Mrs. White asks them to join her quest to search for a powerful, magical treasure—a treasure she wishes to protect from evil forces. Being explorers at heart, the four decide to join her quest. But as the tasks—and the candy—become more and more dangerous, and Mrs. White becomes more and more obsessed with the treasure, the kids begin to wonder if Mrs. White is truly as “good” as she claims.

Though The Candy Shop War resonates of other fantasy works, Mull has managed to create an imaginative, amazing adventure that any child would enjoy. Mull provides solid characters—regular kids struggling to do the right thing in the face of incredible temptation, villains who turn out to be allies, friends who turn out to be enemies—and excellent plot turns, that keep the reader guessing who to trust and what will happen with every turn of the page. Throw in fresh brands of magic and supernatural creatures and the result is an exciting romp with twists and turns around every corner.

Review by Katrina Hill, Indigo Editing, LLC

ISBN-13: 978-1590387832
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Pub Date: September 2007
Hardcover: $17.95

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely. I've enjoyed Mull's Fablehaven books with my two youngest sons (7 and 10.) But I really loved how unique CSW was. Unlike anything else I've read.