My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway which in no way influenced my review. This middle-grade book is like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson had a baby. If anyone saw The Simpsons episode with Neil Gaiman on how to write YA, this is what you have to have, that played on a loop in my brain as I read this.
It's not that I disliked it. I thought it was cute and I'm sure readers of the intended age group would enjoy it. The author had a touchingly sweet reason for writing this as well.
Ezkiel "Ezie" is a strange young man being raised sans father by his mom, grandma and uncle. He, of course, feels his father's absence and clings to the red bow tie that was his father's enjoying wearing it. But strange things keep happening around him like earthquakes or a Chuck E. Cheese knock off spitting out tons and tons of tickets.
His Mom sends him off to the titular Camp Strange (Ezie's term for it) where he learns he's a Faerman, a fairy complete with wings that bud out at camp which is basically where it happens for all the faerman who are sent at this age to camp to learn their magic. He meets up with who'll be his team of friends, Dara and Ethan, the twins (and he has a crush on Dara), Aubrey, Kalas and Miles.
Naturally there has to be some bad guy and in this case it's the Hematites who want to change the Faermans' place in this world. However, in this volume, they're more of a camp fire story kind of thing and we don't really see them until the end. This story is more about making friendships and finding your place in the world. There is a sweetness to it.
Ezie has found an older friend in an old age home he has to do community service in, an elderly lady who wants to teach him various things like card games and dance. There is however a bully, Fabian and a crazy game they need to learn, Padsphere and there are pegasi to ride.
It's in Ezie's point of view and not all the characters are as well drawn as they could be (Miles and Aubrey notable) This does have some story telling elements that annoyed me. Of course being a middle-grade book, the kids are doing things better left to adults. One of the kids says this repeatedly but they easily convince themselves the adults aren't listening (especially after a Pegasus goes missing) but they also don't act quickly on things that probably should have been of much more concern. This was especially true of when a boy goes missing and Ezie has a vision of him, knows he needs to help now but tells no one and does not much. Granted later there is a reason for it but some simple restructuring would probably have made them look less callous or foolish
I thought it was cute. I think kids would like it. I do have one big negative to say that I almost never do. If this was self published I might have left it slide (as it's an homage to her autistic son) but this thing needed line edited in the worst way. I know Black Rose Writing is a small indie publisher but they should be editing. This thing had so many grammar issues. Paragraphs run together, missing punctuation, confusion of your/you're there/their and the use of 's instead of the plural (repeatedly with the peggies (as they call the Pegasus)) and even wrong words. I felt like this was a draft.
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