Ex­cerpts from an Un­known Guide­book, Book 1: Phases of the Moon

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews | Adult Nonfiction / Juvenile / Ya - SUSAN WAG­GONER

Josef Bas­tian Folk­teller Pub­lish­ing (AU­GUST) Soft­cover $7.99 (248pp) 978-1-73208-901-3

Josef Bas­tian’s Ex­cerpts from an Un­known Guide­book is a pol­ished, thor­oughly en­gag­ing fantasy for tweens and young adults.

Aaron An­der­son seems or­di­nary in ev­ery way—un­til he learns he’s been cho­sen to suc­ceed his grand­fa­ther Pap as a Folk­teller, the per­son who “tells the sto­ries that must be told” to keep evil at bay.

Aaron’s training be­gins with a clev­erly rid­dled ad­ven­ture that lands him and his best friend Jake in an­other di­men­sion. There they meet Wendy Per­rault, a stu­dent Folk­teller from a par­al­lel uni­verse. When Aaron and Jake are at­tacked by suf­fo­cat­ing, cold-as-ice em­bod­i­ments of evil known as the Shadow Peo­ple, Wendy helps them es­cape and is ac­ci­den­tally trans­ported back to Earth with the boys.

The ba­sics of the story are de­li­ciously em­bel­lished with all sorts of com­pli­ca­tions. Wendy needs to re­turn to her own uni­verse, but she will have only one chance to do so, when the tran­sit por­tal opens on a narrow win­dow of es­cape. Aaron’s spe­cial sta­tus as a Folk­teller-in-training threat­ens his long-stand­ing friend­ship with Jake. The Shadow Peo­ple, aware that Pap’s pow­ers are wan­ing while Aaron’s are still de­vel­op­ing, are plan­ning to wage a fi­nal, all-out war of de­struc­tion.

Writ­ing is light rather than por­ten­tous, with touches of hu­mor. De­scrip­tions of the Shadow Peo­ple, the al­ter­nate di­men­sion, and mag­i­cal books of Folk­teller tales are vivid.

Char­ac­ters are deftly drawn. Pap isn’t com­pletely sure that his plan for get­ting Wendy home will work. Aaron ques­tions whether he’s re­ally cut out to be a Folk­teller. Wendy and Jake form a ro­man­tic at­tach­ment that cre­ates ten­sion as the pro­pi­tious date for Wendy’s re­turn looms.

The first book in a pro­jected series, Ex­cerpts from an Un­known Guide­book sets a high stan­dard to fol­low.

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