Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Kindling and Penumbras by Braden Bell

Loud shrieks sliced the air, followed by the smell of burning cloth. Conner looked over in time to see Geoffrey jumping up and down, yelling and shrieking. Smoke poured from the seat of his shorts while blue and yellow sparks snap-crackle-and-popped all around the heater.

All thirteen-year-old Connor Dell wants to do is pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens. He didn’t mean to set anyone’s gym shorts on fire or make school lunches explode. But now that the strange powers inside him have been ignited, Connor’s normal teenage life is about to go up in flames!
Homework? Of course. Crushes? Sure. But who knew seventh grade included superpowers?

He'd watched himself do terrible things inside the Shadowbox.
Things he hadn't told anyone about.
Things he couldn't stand to remember.
Conner Dell wants to be good--he really does. But he is terrified that he might be turning into a Darkhand, especially when new powers start to surface. What's worse, the Stalker is following Conner, but no one else seems to be able to see him. The Magi think he might be hallucinating, the guilt of what happened in the Shadowbox keeps weighing on him, and his relationship with Melanie Stephens is complicating things. Even for a Magi, Conner knows his life is anything but normal.
Best friends? Check.
Field trips? Of course.
Fighting evil shadow monsters? Uh-oh.

I can't tell you how many times I wished there were more books like this out when my two older kids were younger.  Especially my boy.  These books have all the things he loved when he was in those middle grades.

There are so many things to love about these books.  The foundation is the classic struggle between Light and Dark - Good vs. Evil.  You have three kids with developing super powers and the bad guys who are trying to get them.  From there though, a magical and complicated story develops, bringing hold your breath moments and heart pumping adventure.  It's classic fantasy stuff but unique too.

The things that make these books for me are that they are free of swearing, profanity and sexual situations.  They are right on level for middle grade readers but not in any way less exciting.

I love the three kids that this story revolves around.  They interact well and they felt believable to me.  I believed they were the age claimed.  There were lots of intense moments and the bad guys are really bad!  It's a magical fantasy feast for middle grade readers.

Braden Bell has an awesome website that you can check out.  It has book trailers and pictures.  You can even read the first few chapters of Penumbras there.  It's a fantastic site and will get your kids (and even you!) excited to read these books.  

Braden Bell earned a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in theatre arts and child drama from Brigham Young University. He and his family live on a quiet, wooded lot in Tennessee, where he teaches theatre and music at a private middle school--the world described in The Kindling and Penumbras(whether his evenings and weekends are spent fighting evil is something he cannot disclose). An experienced performer, Braden enjoys singing, acting, reading, gardening, and long walks with the dog.

Braden enjoys interacting with readers on his blog or Facebook page.

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