Word Spelunking

The Flame in the Mist - Kit Grindstaff When it comes to books there's nothing I crave and love more than an enthralling and well crafted middle-grade read, and Kit Grindstaff's The Flame in the Mist is just that! Wonderfully imagined, with fantastic world-building, storytelling that shines, and a great heroine, The Flame in the Mist was a lot of fun to read.Set in a world where magic exist and those that can wield it hold all the power, young Jemma Agromond discovers that her whole life has been a lie. A dangerous lie. With her telepathic golden ratusses, Noodle and Pie, and her very best friend, Digby, Jemma must journey away from the dark Argomond Castle and its inhabitants to a home she has never known, but longs for. Along the way, she must also learn to use her burgeoning powers because she is the key to the Prophecy, the key to bringing the light back to Anglavia.The very basic premise of The Flame in the Mist is nothing new- young heroine discovers unbelievable powers/abilities, learns she is the key to defeat some wicked evil, and overcomes obstacles to make sure good triumphs over evil- but, Kit Grindstaff infuses this premise with so much of her fantastic imagination and storytelling, creating a story that is uniquely hers and wonderfully refreshing. There are always certain things a middle-grade book must have for me to truly enjoy it-- captivating storytelling, excellent world-building, and an awesome hero or heroine-- The Flame in the Mist has all three. The world of Anglavia is crafted and laid out in rich, vivid details and is smartly layered. This is a world that is both whimsical and dark, enchanting and terrifying, real and fantastical. I love when middle-grade authors aren't afraid to bring an eerie, bewitching kind of darkness to their stories and Grindstaff does this so wonderfully. The world of Jemma's foes is dark in a fascinatingly creepy, spine-tingly way, but still completely appropriate for its intended audience. The tone and voice are pitch-perfect and exciting, but, at times, the pacing was too slow for my liking. There are plenty of thrills and twists, but, at over 400 pages, this is a long middle-grade book and some chapters dragged.At the heart of this fantasy/adventure are its great characters. Jemma is my favorite kind of middle-grade heroine: brave, capable, smart, compassionate, but believably flawed; she isn't perfect and makes relatable mistakes. And she actually feels and acts her age (13 years old), which may not seem like a big deal, but there are so many MG characters out there that act way older than they are. I love Jemma's relationship with her two golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and how cute are those names?! And of course, every great heroine needs an equally captivating villain, and we get a whole family of them in The Flame in the Mist.The last quarter of the book is especially thrilling and had me furiously turning pages; Kit Grindstaff definitely knows how to keep readers on the edge of their seats! And the story ends in such a satisfying way.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: The Flame in the Mist is an awesome middle-grade fantasy that will keep readers, especially younger readers, enthralled with its darkly whimsical world, likable characters, and well-crafted story. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Kit Grindstaff's work.

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