Reviewed by Steph Huddleston
A fun read with an authentic sibling relationship at the heart
In the first installment of the Drifters Realm series, young readers will be delighted to meet twelve-year-old twins Roe and Ori along with their older brother Theo.
The magical world of Drifters Realm is in turmoil when Roe, a Life Giver with healing abilities, is gifted a crossbow. The weapon is just the first of her problems as it gets her into trouble with the Guardians that monitor their daily lives. The world of Drifter’s Realm seems to be increasingly unravelling, and the siblings, their long lost father, and a mysterious prophecy are the key to saving them all.
“We’ve been waiting for you, Roe. We can stop the prophecy from happening; we can save our family and everyone we know and love before it’s too late. But first, we need to find Father.”
Theo and Roe are the only members of their family still connected. With the help of their friends, the siblings set off on an adventure to track down Ori and their father. Once united again, she hopes that together they’ll be able to unravel the mysterious prophecies that are increasingly impacting her life, and even stop the future war that looms over Drifters Realm.
The worldbuilding in Drifters Realm is detailed and carefully considered. From the magical backpacks to the unique powers of each sibling, there is a lot to enjoy in this world. For a middle grade fantasy fiction, the book successfully blends political elements usually reserved for an older audience, with family themes of sibling dynamics, loneliness, and grief.
“She never imagined that so much weight would rest on her shoulders. How would she find the courage and strength to do what must be done next?”
The novel as a whole uses a quest-based structure. This does require a lot of traveling from one place to another for the band of characters. The introduction of character transformations (physical in the case of Theo) and emotional (in the case of a secondary character, Seth) rewards the patience of readers with satisfying arcs across the story. Drifters Realm also includes beautiful illustrations throughout to engage readers and assist with their visualizations of key scenes in the story.
The logic of some characters can at times be difficult to follow, and there is a fair amount of head-hopping between characters during scenes. The lack of a consistent viewpoint means at times it can be difficult to form attachments to any one character. When coupled with the number of characters to keep track of and quick introductions, this can cause some confusion.
Overall, Drifters Realm is a good start to what looks to be an intriguing middle grade fantasy series.
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