Deltora Quest Series, by Emily Rodda, Book Review

deltora questMy daughter and I have been fighting all week, and I’m thrilled! You see, I picked up the first of an eight-volume series called Deltora Quest from the library to fill her reading quota for this last week of school. Not only did she read the first one through in a day, she requested the other seven, and she told me I had to read them! Since this is coming from a mostly obligatory reader, I agreed, letting her fill the role of teacher for a while. I’m on my fifth book, when I can beat her to it, and I’ll give my recommendation to any of you who enjoy children’s literature.

Deltora Quest is not what I would call high-quality literature. The writing is nominal, with little or no poetic beauty to it, the characters are flat, and the whole pretense is cliche and predictable. So why am I reading it? Because the author, Emily Rodda, has written an exciting adventure with lots and lots of action.

Book One starts out in the ancient city of Del, where the Shadow Lord has taken control. The magic belt that has protected the kingdom for ages has been stolen, and each of its seven gems taken to different parts of the kingdom where they are held by dangerous guardians. Sixteen-year-old Lief, along with his friend Jasmine and a former palace guard named Barda, have set out to recapture each talisman and reassemble the belt so the Shadow Lord might be ousted from the land. As they embark on their quest, the companions get into all sorts of scrapes. Each book focuses on a different gem at a different location.

Deltora Quest will appeal to the same crowd of third through sixth graders who enjoy RL Stein’s Goosebumps series and the Michigan and American Chillers by Jonathan Rand, but they are better written. While all these books build anticipation at the end of each chapter, only Deltora Quest offers the substancial plot sequences promised by these cliffhangers. The action builds on itself, with bits and pieces, clues and foreshadowing, taken from all over the book and tied into a logical, exciting conclusion.

While I prefer more beautiful prose, characters who grow and change, and metaphors that drive a story into deeper levels, Lief’s journey is exciting. Ms. Rodda has written a book that appeals to kids. She has my daughter devouring her stories. So I say, kuddos to her!

level: Middle Reader (ages 8-12)

 

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