Caley Cross and the Hadeon Drop

BookSparks/SparkPress. Sept. 2020. 225p. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781684630530.
Gr 4 Up– This first volume of a series centers Caley, a 13-year-old girl who lives with the awful Grunch. The Grunch runs a home for orphans and she is so horrible to Caley, she makes the Dursleys, Miss Minchin, and The Trunchbull look warm and fuzzy. As if living with the Grunch isn’t bad enough, Caley had a particularly horrible day at school involving zombie frogs. She encounters a jumpsuit-wearing mole and is whisked away to a magical realm called Erinath. In this new world, Caley is a princess and must begin her training at the Erinath Academy, where some students are far from welcoming. But school bullies are the least of her worries when a dark “Watcher” named Olpheist begins seeking her and something he believes will make him immortal. This title follows a well-known magic school formula, (an orphan from a horrible home goes to a magical school and learns about a great destiny) but Rosen puts enough of his own spin on the things and prevents the narrative from feeling too derivative. Rosen’s nuanced characters act and speak like actual 13-year-old students. The well-paced plot will leave readers clamoring for the sequel.
VERDICT Fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter who are anxious for something new will welcome Caley Cross into their reading cannon. A solid addition to a middle grade collection that will retain the attention of avid readers.

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