When I first began reading Kamilla Reid’s The Questory of Root Karbunkulus: Item One: Miist I was immediately taken by the voice of the story. I found myself laughing out loud for the first few pages! Lately I have been reading a lot of new fantasy novels (everyone wants to be the new Harry Potter) and it seems that so many are clunky, difficult to get through, and dark. I find myself reluctant to recommend them to some of my readers, because fantasy is always a tough sell, and if the story is difficult it can be painful for 6th graders. Not so with The Questory of Root Karbunkulus: Item One: Miist!
Root is different. According to her cruel aunts (who reminded me of the evil stepfamily in Cinderella), her parents died and left her to them. She is raised to be a maid in their crazy “halfhouse”. She begins to withdraw from the world and become a shell of her former self until the day she receives a life-changing phone call on a magic phone only she can hear. It turns out to be a summons to join a magical treasure hunt. Root enthusiastically agrees and begins preparations to leave her cruel aunts behind, she must first solve riddle in order to enter the world of the contest. When she does solve the riddle, she is transported to the world of Dre’Amm, located a mere 3 feet above our world. Soon she is trudging her way toward a castle along with a line of other boys and girls, all of whom are buzzing about the competition they have been invited to join. In Dre’Amm, where magic exists in everyone and everything, Root finds herself at a disadvantage. She is a Dearth – a non-magicial being. Or so she thinks…
Once at the castle, the children are randomly put into teams that can include children native to Dre’Amm. Root becomes part of a team called the Valadors, which consists of herself and two boys – Lian, the bullied son of a nobleman in Dre’Amm, and Dwyn, a hot guy (who knows it) from Root’s world. They begin the first of 6 quests to find treasures of the Dre’Amm world. It’s a dangerous game and only 6 teams will move on to the next part of the quest. Six teams out of the hundreds that begin. So the competition is fierce!
Root’s team heads to a secret library, hoping to gain information that will put them ahead of the other teams. To their shock, another group has arrived first and the competition will remain neck-and-neck from this point on, as the teams scour the land for clues to Kalliope’s Miist. Along the way, Root will learn about the strange world of Dre’Amm – her birthplace – with its strange animals that include two-headed snakes, albino gorillas, and talking cats, ghosts, Sea Wraiths, Bulks, Bredins, and other strange inhabitants magic dirt that forms an interactive map, living alarm clocks, friendly wisteria vines. She will also learn about herself, for the first time ever.
I loved this book. It’s full of action, humor, friendship, and adventure. Kamilla Reid has developed a gorgeous and magical world in Dre’Amm (pronounced Drayam, not dream!) that invites you in and wraps you in its magic. Root is a likable character who wants nothing more than to know who she is. There are wizards, magicians, and magic beings. I think it is difficult in this day and age not to compare fantasy books to Harry Potter, but I think Reid has done a great job with the first book in her series. I am looking forward to reading the next in the series! And I look forward to recommending the first volume to my students.
Kamilla Reid has been kind enough to swing by the blog today to answer questions in the comments, so fire away! She has also donated a signed copy of the novel, complete with Dre’Amm dogtags! Interested in winning? Just leave a comment about why you want to read The Questory of Root Karbunkulus: Item One: Miist!
ETA: The contest will run from now til Saturday! I will choose a winner at random on Saturday night! So be sure to leave a comment!