Book Reviews, Middle Grade Book Reviews

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman – ARC Review

My Rating ~ Three Stars

RELEASE DATE:   September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 259

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Blurb

Kate and her younger brother Tom lead desperately uninteresting lives. And judging by their desperately uninteresting parents, the future isn’t much more promising. If only life was like it is in books, where you have adventures, and save the world! Even Kate’s 11th birthday is shaping up to be mundane — that is, until her mysterious and highly irresponsible Uncle Herbert surprises her with the most unexpected, exhilarating birthday present of all time: a real-life steam locomotive called The Silver Arrow.

Kate and Tom’s parents quite sensibly tell him to take it back, but Kate and Tom have other ideas — and so does The Silver Arrow — and very soon they’re off on a mysterious journey along magical rails. On their way, they pick up a pack of talking animals: a fishing cat, a porcupine, a green mamba, a polar bear, and the sweetest baby pangolin in the world. With only curiosity, fear, adrenaline, and the thrill of the unknown to guide them, Kate and Tom are on the adventure of a lifetime — and they just might save the world after all.

1

Review

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury Publishing for providing me with a copy of The Silver Arrow, in exchange for an honest review!

Kate has never met her uncle, but she knows he is very rich and hopes he might send her a birthday present. A real life steam train wasn’t really what she, or her parents, had in mind though. When she boards the train, with her brother Tom, they’re surprised the train is able to communicate with them and whisks them away on an adventure where they encounter all sorts of talking animals.

The Silver Arrow was a cute middle grade read full of whimsical magic. The talking animals were definitely the highlight and the story seemed quite character driven, because to be honest, not a lot happened. Kate and Tom were tasked with delivering the animals to different stations but, unless I got distracted and missed it, the story never really explained why or what the point was. Each animal stopped to talk about their habitat, predators and lifestyle a bit throughout the story, so I guess it had something to do with migration? I also assume it was meant to teach children about ecology and how humans can hurt the animal kingdom, but the way it was written didn’t really give me a clear picture of that and I think it’s likely it would go right over a younger reader’s head. I think The Silver Arrow wanted to be a Polar Express / Narnia cross, but it didn’t really hit the mark other than being mildly cute.

I think younger readers will be enchanted by Kate and Tom’s story (but I’d direct this one to the younger end of middle grade), and the cover of the book is absolutely stunning, I just felt as though many of the plot points were rushed over, with very little explanation of how they related to the overall story.

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