Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter

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Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Enjoyable first volume in a new series about Animalgams - people who can shape-shift into animals. Likeable central character, nicely pitched mystery plot and a lot to look forward to. Perhaps a little heavy on the worldbuilding introductions.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: February 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408858010

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Simon Thorn doesn't see his mother often. Instead, he lives with his Uncle Darrell in his small New York apartment. But to be honest, an unusual family structure is the least of Simon's worries. Simon has a secret: he can talk to animals. You might think this to be a singular talent and something to be happy about. But Simon's ability makes him relate to animals differently to other children and, as we all know, any kind of difference is like a red rag to bullies. And Simon is firmly on the radar of the school bullies.

But then one day, a golden eagle comes to call. Simon's mother has been kidnapped by a herd of rats. And only Simon can save her. This quest will reveal some astounding truths. Simon, his mum and Uncle Darrell are all Animalgams - people who can not only talk to animals but also assume their form. In fact, Animalgams even have their own academy, located under Central Park Zoo.

Saving the day won't come easy. But Simon's journey will be one of self discovery...

Shape-shifting stories are very popular, so you have to write a good one to get noticed. And Simon Thorn is a good one. Everybody likes alternate worlds hiding in plain sight. Everybody loves the idea of talking to animals. The central character is particularly likeable and rises from the pages as a fully-rounded person that readers will relate to, sympathise with, and - most importantly! - cheer on. Carter's universe is beautifully imagined and rendered with a great deal of care and intricacy. There is a satisfying mystery plot holding up the narrative. The whole thing has an extremely good-hearted feel about it and the narrative flies along with bagfuls of infectious enthusiasm. It is a pleasure to read.

If I were to be picky, I would say that perhaps too much time is given over to worldbuilding, leaving the supporting cast somewhat underdeveloped. Simon Thorn will appeal most to readers who want the fantasy background and are happy to wait for minor characters to be fleshed out.

It's a busy market, this middle grade adventure sector. But Simon Thorn enters it with aplomb. It will be noticed and it will, without doubt, be thoroughly enjoyed. We at Bookbag are more than happy to recommend it.

If Simon Thorn appeals, you might also enjoy The Queen of Dreams by Peter Hamilton, featuring bespectacled talking squirrels, or Katherine Langrish's Troll series.

Buy Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter at Amazon.com.


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