The first book of Brandon Mull's new series, The Five Kingdoms, Sky Raiders (Lexile: 610; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) is yet another imaginative tale woven full of what dreams and nightmares.
Cole is very excited about a new haunted house he's heard about, and he convinces his best friend Dalton, and the girl he likes, Jenna, to come with him to see it. What he doesn't bargain for is the true horror of his friends getting kidnapped. Somehow being able to sneak away and avoid capture, Cole follows his friends down a hole and ends up in the Outskirts (wherever that is) and sees his friends taken as slaves. As he tries to help them escape, he gets caught as well. When it is sensed that he has no shaping ability (again, whatever that is), Cole is sold to the Sky Raiders where he is set the task of scoping out Sky Castles for treasure. Yes, castles in the sky that form in one cloud wall, float across the sky to another cloud wall, and containing usable treasure. Unfortunately, where there is treasure, there is also usually some more unpleasant things, such as a giant scorpion-centipede thing.
Of course, it wouldn't be a great story if it just ended there, but Cole's new friend Mira has a secret, and he is roped into helping her escape when the High Shaper sends 400 legionnaires to capture her. Now the children are on the run with no where to go and no way to get there, so they try to hide inside a cloud wall and discover some unlikely allies and the beginning of a whole new adventure.
This story was sometimes really slow, with a lot of talking to explain the story, but the sequels sure are lining up to be awfully good stories now that we have some good, solid background. Fans of Brandon Mull's other series (FableHaven and The Beyonders) will not be disappointed. (421 pages)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.