Thank you to Netgalley, Starcape and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.
Book: Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis
Release Date: March 1st 2022
Tags: Middle Grade Fantasy | Elves | Summer vs Winter | Goblins | Magical Objects | Celtic Heroes | Disability
The Otherworld is at war. The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts trains warriors. And Kelcie Murphy—a foster child raised in the human world—is dying to attend.
A place at AUA means meeting Scáthach, the legendary trainer of Celtic heroes. It means learning to fight with a sword. It means harnessing her hidden powers and—most importantly—finding out who her parents are, and why they abandoned her in Boston Harbor eight years ago.
When Kelcie tests into the school, she learns that she’s a Saiga, one of the most ancient beings in the Otherworld. Secretive, shunned, and possessed of imposing elemental powers, the Saiga are also kin to the Otherworld’s most infamous traitor.
But Kelcie is a survivor, and she’ll do whatever it takes to find her parents and her place in their world. Even if that means making a few enemies.
I am always in for middle grade fantasy with fun covers like Kelcie Murphy has. It was a lot of fun though a bit unpolished in places.
Kelcie Murphy is a fun fantasy story that I hope we will get more of in the future. Despite some of the obvious tropey things (that I will get to later_ there is a lot of depth and characterization to be found in this story. The academy is to create warriors to defend Summer from Winter. For instance the kids have to go into a group that they will succeed or fail with. It is about team work. It is about doing things for another. It is not just about developing your own skills.
One thing that it obviously shows in is how they treat their disabled team mate. He was born without a hand and everyone in his family told him he wouldn’t make it through the schools testing to get in, let alone the schools actual curriculum. It is not just magic they get but also physical training like sword fighting and climbing ropes etc. However when there was a trial where there was such a ‘problem’ they ran the trial again and again in a way to figure out a way for him to also get over the wall without treating him like a baby or a nuisance. I loved every bit of that (and also their solution).
So there is a lot of diversity and depth to find in this story. But I also saw some obvious tropey things that left the book feeling unpolished. Like the start. How of course Kelcie is an orphan. How of course her counciller on Earth is a bad guy. How of course no one questioned her arriving at the testing and nobody cared she didn’t have anyone to let know she was staying at the academy. So absolutely convenient. Or who her parents turn out to be. Because of course. Or that she is one of the saiga, an ancient being that is looked down on.
Some of those were dealth with fine like the saiga bit, because there were a few other kids who also were at the school as saiga. She wasn’t the first back at the school. But some of the other things really stood out from some of the well thought out things the rest of the story had.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is an excellent middle grade fantasy that i would love to read more off.