Series: The Keepers #1
Title: The Box and the Dragonfly
Author: Ted Sanders
Publisher: Harper Collins
Page #: 544
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Even before I had finished this guy I was handing it out to kids because I knew it was great. If you have a child that really loves Harry Potter or fantastic worlds that are set within the real world this is definitely a series to check out. The first two books in the series have been published and it is ongoing so if they like it there will be more books in the future.
This story follows two unlikely heros who are thrust into a world they didn’t know existed and it all starts with a warehouse full of stuff. Aisles and aisles of boxes and bins filled with doodads and thingamabobs that to the untrained eye seem kitschy and out of place. Both our protagonists have an affinity that has laid dormant in their genes which allows them to bond with one specific item in the warehouse. Once bonded the item changes from a paperweight into a powerful magical item. Each item is unique and each wielder is the only one able to use that particular item.
Little do the kids know that there are very powerful creatures who want to have all of these magic items to use as they see fit. These creatures were once the makers of such items but have since lost the ability to do so. They are trying to round up as many as possible to fortify their own power. The kids will have to decide which side to fight for. The side of humans who were given these gifts, or the side of the monsters who made them.
The first book is definitely a traditional set up. We meet the cast of characters, learn how they got their items, what their items do, and get a taste of what the bad guys can do. What stood out to me the most was definitely the world building. Sanders has put in time and effort to create a history for the items in his world and to create rules for his magic that helps keep it in check. I fell in love with the world long before I started to care for the characters and their individual plights.
It was fast paced and I didn’t mind that most of the book was learning about the world since it was such an interesting world to inhabit. I definitely see the potential for these books to be great and I went and grabbed a copy of the second book and it is on my TBR for this year. If you have a little one that likes action and adventure this is definitely a little known series to take a look at. If they enjoy fantastic elements in a more believable and realistic world it is also a good one, as not everyone wants to deal with an entirely new world.
I will say that the bad guys here are a bit scary so it might be best to wait to read it until you are 10+, but it was not particularly challenging so if you have a brave 8 year old they would definitely be able to understand the book. Perhaps it is one to read together, so that any scary moments can be discussed and snuggles can be used to build comfort.
The protagonists are both genders which I always appreciate. While the main POV character is male (as is common for the genre) I actually felt the girl had more character to her. She definitely had a bigger personality and it was their friendship that really held the story line together. I believed that they trusted each other, while it started as simply discussing this weird thing they had in common, I saw their friendship grow and bloom over the course of the book. It wasn’t instant friendship and I really appreciated that.
The other big thing that I loved was that they have families! These weren’t orphans being signed up for a magic war with no one to miss or worry about them, they had parents who loved and cared for them siblings that counted on them. Of course the very things they loved could also be used against them. I hope that their families become a bigger part of the stories the more this series continues. There is a lot that a family can do in the same way that freedom from the constraints of traditional family structures allows certain things, there is great power in having generations available as a resource.
This was one of the more interesting Middle Grade books I read last year, even though it took me the whole year to finish it. I kept putting it down to read other pressing things (like books for my book club) but it was always by my bedside and I would read a bit here and there because it was so captivating. I couldn’t just put it down and forget about it.
Do you guys have any suggestions for books that are similar to this one? If so please leave them down below so that I can get myself a copy and read it to add to my repertoire of great Middle Grade Fantasy. Along those lines, are there any stories you particularly want to hear me talk about? I am always open to suggestions for things to look into.