This story has a good basic plot; stolen kids, machinatons among the sidhe, and a magical bookstore. The author's experience as a middle school teacher shows through in realistic touches of how middle school kids think and feel. Overall, it shows promise for a debut author.
However, nothing really happens until the last chapter. There's a lot of dialogue and a lot of new names, almost every paragraph it feels. I felt like I never really got to know any of the characters and there were a lot of different plot points that petered off into nothing. Calum's changing friendship with Arlen, the bullying Sloan siblings, and Calum's various sidhe relatives with their familial and political issues are all touched on briefly and detract from the main plot of the story. The reader doesn't get a good feel for the fantasy element/sidhe world of the story and it's frustrating to have bits of information dribbled out here and there, half a chapter of action, and no real resolution for the story.
Verdict: There are promising points, but it needs stronger world-building and a lot of editing of characters and plot points to refine it. I did appreciate that it was a shorter book - it's hard to find middle grade titles that aren't over 300 pages anymore. The cover is not very eye-catching and the book is only available on Amazon (i.e. not available on my vendor Baker and Taylor). If you have really rabid faerie fans they might be willing to pick this up, but otherwise I'd stick with Michelle Harrison's 13 Treasures series, Magicalamity by Kate Saunders, and Laura Sullivan's Under the Green Hill for serious faerie fans. I do think this author shows promise and I'd be interested in seeing what she could do with a realistic fiction book about middle school, as those were the parts of the story that seemed strongest.
ISBN: 9781922200044; Published 2013 by Odyssey; ARC provided by author for review