Arlo Finch and his mother have moved to the small town of Pine Mountain, Colorado while Arlo’s father is in China. It’s never fun being the new kid in school, but Arlo joins the local Rangers organization, hoping to build his wilderness skills. And though it takes a little patience, he makes friends with the others in his squad (Blue Patrol). They will need to work together if they have any hope of beating all the other colored Patrols in the annual competition.
But shortly after arriving at his mom’s family home Arlo is greeted by the family dog. Only … that dog passed away many years earlier. With this, Arlo recognizes that his life is just a bit different from others’ but he’s not quite sure how, why, or just how different his abilities are.
When Arlo is walking along one day and suddenly realizes that he’s in an entirely different landscape, a place he comes to know as Long Woods where dark creatures stalk, he knows that his life path will be different from others’. But he doesn’t give up on his ‘normal’ life – there are lessons to be learned as a Ranger – lessons that might be used to help him in the Long Woods (and vice versa).
I really enjoyed this book. The similarities to Harry Potter are quite abundant, but the differences are enough to make this a unique read – primary among those differences is that Arlo is a little more rooted in the non-magical world, letting the reader identify with him a bit more easily.
Author John August unravels the story slowly but with teasers in just the right moments to keep us fully engaged and interested. I did find myself more interested in Arlo’s Rangers activities than in the mysteries of the magical world. The teases were interested but not quite enough to have me fully invested in what might happen there. However, the climax of the Ranger’s competition, clashing with the magic world was definitely worth waiting for.
The book doesn’t have enough of an ending for me – too many unanswered questions to require purchasing the next book – but I did definitely enjoy this read.
Looking for a good book? Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August is a really good book for young readers looking for an alternative to the popular boy wizard books.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire
author: John August
series: Arlo Finch #1
publisher: Roaring Brook Press
hardcover, 336 pages