Jun 16, 2012

Review of Crater Lake, by Steve Westover

Steve Westover asked me to review the advance review copy of his middle-grade adventure and fantasy-fiction, Crater Lake: the Battle For Wizard Island.

Crater Lake was a fun and interesting read. It will appeal to its intended audience, and it is a rarity; a story directed to middle-grade boys. We need more of those.
I felt that the legend, geography, mythology and overall imaginative conceptualization of the world of Crater Lake were very well done. The characters are perfect—a quarreling pair of siblings, a jock/bully, a cute girl, the good boy scout. Any kid who picks this up will find someone to identify with. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters. I appreciated that they were generally consistent, without improbable changes in personality or behavior.

My favorite thing about this story is the sense that it’s not a cozy little world Westover has created; there is real danger. Overall there was a feeling of eeriness and impending adventure (or doom) throughout the story, which drives the reader in spite of the disturbing tragedies that occur in the course of the story. I did feel that there was a little bit more of that than I’d expect in a middle-grade book (tragedy, particularly as one of the tragedies remains unresolved at the end) but the violence isn’t such that I would keep my children from reading it. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone with grade-school aged children, boys in particular—they will love it.

You can buy a copy of Westover's book here.


JoAnn Arnold said...

I just read your review of Crater Lake. Now I've got to read it. I do have a copy and think I'll get started tonight.

David McKnight said...

Hi Sarah!

I’ve been reading your blog and wanted to see if I could offer you a free copy of my soon to be released novel Tongue of Fire in exchange for a fair and honest review on your blog. The plot synopsis is as follows:
The charismatic new preacher at the local mega-church is drawing followers by the hundreds. There’s only one problem. He’s a Mormon, and nobody knows it.
John Peterson tries to follow the Spirit, but it tells him to preach, and preaching only seems to get him into trouble. His strident defense of the Mormon Church has gotten him fired again, forcing his family to move for the third time in as many years. Looking for a fresh start in Mayfield, John agrees to keep his head down. But when the owner of the local mega-church loses his pastor, he invites John to preach without asking the name of his church. After a spiritual prompting, John decides to preach, but as his following explodes, his new-found fame threatens to expose his religion and shatter his family’s hopes for a new life.
The town of Mayfield is growing impatient with high school football coach Paul Connelly. The former pastor was hired to help save the football program after the greatest scandal in school history, but after four straight losing seasons, his time is running out. With John Peterson’s meteoric rise, the town appears to have found a new moral authority, and an excuse to find a new coach. When Paul discovers that John is a Mormon, he finds the key to restoring his moral standing—all he has to do is expose and destroy John Peterson.
You can see the cover art at the Tongue of Fire facebook link and like the page for further updates and news.
Thank you for your time!
David McKnight