Review

Review: Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull

Genre: fantasy Age Level: middle grade Series: Five Kingdoms #1
Genre: fantasy
Age Level: middle grade
Series: Five Kingdoms #1

Cole Randolph is just trying to have fun with his friends on Halloween. But their trip to a neighbourhood haunted house turns out to be the start of a wild adventure when Cole watches his friends being whisked away through a dark passage.

Cole dives in after them, only to emerge somewhere that’s very clearly no longer Messa, Arizona. He soon learns he’s come to a place called the Outskirts. 

Made up of five kingdoms, the Outskirts lies between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. It’s an inbetween place. Some people are born there. Some find their way there from our world, or from other worlds. The balance of power in the five kingdoms had been upset, and the magic there is becoming unstable. It’s up to Cole and an unusual girl he meets there names Mira to set things right, rescue his friends, and hopefully survive long enough to find his way back home… 

4/5

I loved Mull’s Beyonders, and knew that I was about to enter a wildly imaginative fantasy land, filled with action and suspense. Sky Raiders definitely lived up to my expectations and was a brilliant first book in the Five Kingdom series.

The summary made it sound a lot like Beyonders – a boy goes through a portal into another world which he cannot easily return from, he meets a girl who is powerful in that land and must save the land. However, that is where the similarities end. Nothing about the plot is reminiscent of Beyonders, and I was in fact impressed by the contrast between the two worlds.

It appears that each of the five kingdoms lies in between two things and the first kingdom, Sambria, lies between wakefulness and dreaming. Due to this, the book is rather strange but wonderful. If I had to list the strange things that take place in this book, you’d think Sky Raiders was a picture book. Even after after reading it, I’m having trouble figuring out how all those dreamlike place and things could be present in the story without making it unbelievable. Yet, Brandon Mull has a such a talent for creating worlds that I could believe in the floating castles and giant animated plastic dinosaurs.

The world building is fantastic. Everything from scenery to politics, from commerce to history is present creating a three dimensional and tangible world I’d love to visit. The world is not just a backdrop for the story but an story on its own. I want more of everything present in the story with a hunger that will surely grow as I continue the series.

In a world of similar fantasy novels with characters and magic that are merely reworked versions of existing ideas, the Sky Raiders stands out as being unique. Everything about it is original and creative especially the magic.

The plot is immediately gripping and exciting, pulling you in to Cole’s story. The story is perfectly balance between humour and sincerity and the kids’ humourous exchanges never failed to bring a smile to my face. I never knew what was going to happen next and couldn’t put the book down because there were so many different elements to the plot with loads of mystery and suspense. There are crazy intense action scenes, and quieter scenes where characters build trust which together create this awesome book.

The characterization isn’t the best, but like with Beyonders, I have a feeling I’ll love all the characters before long. They are all interesting and I can’t wait to spend more time with them.

Fans of Brandon Mull will not be disappointed, and I recommend this book to fans of fantasy books filled with action and adventure.

Other books by Brandon Mull

Wild Born – Spirit Animal’s #1

Chasing the Prophecy – Beyonders #3

Have you read this book? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you!

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