About the Book
Meet Alex Neptune, the boy with the power of the ocean in his hands – a brand-new hero for fans of Percy Jackson and Dragon Realm!
For as long as Alex Neptune can remember, the ocean has been trying to kill him. So he’s not too happy when a bunch of sea creatures drag him to the abandoned aquarium on the hill, where an imprisoned water dragon needs his help. But how can he say no to a magical creature?
Recruiting his tech-genius best friend Zoe, legend-lover Anil, a sharp-shooting octopus, three acrobatic otters and a thieving seagull, Alex plots a heist to break the dragon out. And suddenly discovers the power of the ocean at his fingertips…
About the Author
Having worked as a freelance games journalist and taught on a BA Creative Writing course for three years, David Owen’s debut novel, Panther, was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, and was followed by three further highly acclaimed YA novels. Alex Neptune is his first series for younger readers, born of his love for nail-biting heists, fantastical monsters and heartfelt friendships.
What I Thought
First of all I have been following David’s work for years and I am so happy that he has tried his hand at children’s/MG as well as YA – and that this book looks to be blowing up in a good way!
My pitch would be Percy Jackson x Free Willy x Demelza and the Spectre Detectors x Encanto x Arthur Christmas x Oceans 11 x Moana because if the vibes I got while reading.
This was such a fun aquatic adventure with a cast of eccentric and memorable characters. Although the story does have eco themes it isn’t at all heavy handed and the heist takes centre stage. And Owen’s trademark Twitter wit comes to play in this book too – David I hope you narrate the audiobook version!
I loved the subtle chosen one vibes and how Alex’s fear had kept him from realising his potential and how he takes steps to manage this, all whilst doing some very scary things like facing the villainous Raze Callis (excellent villain name btw).
I liked how the burgeoning friendship developed with new boy Anil and the dynamic between him and Alex’s best friend Zoey. She definitely gave me Demelza vibes (or Data in Goonies) and it was interesting to see the art vs technology disagreement with her father.
In fact I loved that there was focus on the family dynamics with all three of young characters when parents, grandparents are so often absent in order to let them have adventures. Here they take part too.
Alex’s big sister Bridget was giving Luisa from Encanto vibes and I think might have been my fave character – super determined.
And then we were spoilt with the animal characters – otters, octopus, seagulls and not forgetting the main attraction of the water dragon itself.
The connection between Alex and the water dragon was precious and because we know there’s going to be a sequel I hope to see that develop and it would be awesome if they got a name.
Alex Neptune: Dragon Thief officially releases tomorrow and is Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month for August. Their exclusive edition has a wonderful greeny sprayed and stencilled edge with octopus arms on it (they aren’t tentacles – right David?). There’s also purple foiling on the cover of all editions 💜 and the both the internal illustrations and cover were by George Ermos – and I can’t believe I missed the map until I was looking for the illustrator name!
Thanks to Blue at Kaleidoscopic Tours and the publisher for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. Check out the rest of the tour stops too and see what everyone else thought.
About the Book
Welcome to Yowling – a secretive seaside village where magic is just one step away…
Max has spent years thinking he is cursed, because whenever he touches anything electrical it explodes. But then he is sent to Yowling and discovers he is a Spellstopper, someone with the rare ability to drain dangerous build-ups of magic and fix misbehaving enchanted items.
When Max’s Grandad is kidnapped by the cruel Keeper of the malfunctioning magical castle that floats in the bay, only Max’s gift can save him. Together with his new friend Kit, Max throws himself into an adventure filled with villainous owls, psychic ice cream and man-eating goldfish. But can he really pull off the biggest spellstop ever?
About the Author
Cat Gray is an author and journalist, based in London and Ireland. She started her journalism career at the age of 19, interviewing musicians and celebrities in between attending classes, then went on to be an editor at a series of glossy magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country.
Since she was very young, she’s always believed that there’s an adventure just around the corner, and this is reflected in her magical fantasy stories. Spellstoppers is her first book.
What I Thought
Classic middle grade adventure with young Max not fitting into the everyday world because of an unfortunate ability to kill anything electrical. His exasperated mother sends him to live with her estranged father where Max finds out that magic exists, and that he has the power to stop it. And soon those newly realised abilities are put to the ultimate test.
Max’s grandfather Bram and his assistant Kit are joined by the unusual inhabitants of Yowling including the not so nice owls (think Hitchcock’s The Birds) and the really not nice Keeper of the mysterious and ailing castle, Leandra (who gave me Madam Mim vibes).
Full of both hideous and mouthwatering food, and animal companions with unusual names – children are going to love this story of learning how to harness what you’ve been taught to fear.
If you are a fan of The Apprentice Witch or The Hedge Witch I think you’ll enjoy this just as I did.
Cat Gray has written a pacy story set in a sleepy seaside town and with a main character you can’t help but like.
Thanks to Blue at Kaleidoscopic Tours and the publishers for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. Check out the rest of the tour stops for more insights.