Monday, October 19, 2015

Casters of Doovik by McKenzie Wagner

Welcome to Middle Grade Monday. Today I am reviewing Casters of Doovik, a new middle grade fantasy from author McKenzie Wagner.

The Story-
The village of Doovik is surround by an invisible barrier that separates their human world from the world of magical creatures outside. When children turn 15 years-old they are tested at a bestowal ceremony to discover if they have magic. This year Meg, Peter, Eric, Tessa and Dylan are to be tested. However, during their ceremony a terrible spell is cast over the village that not only destroys the barrier, but turns everyone into red lava statues. Our five teens are the only ones to unfreeze.

Separately they travel beyond the safety of their village and into the unknown. At different points they meet up and eventual remain together. They find a riddle that lures them into searching for the mainland of the elves and hopefully to finding a cure for their cursed village. They must fight to save everyone they love.

My Thoughts-
Let's start with world building. This story has an interesting premise. A village that is separated from the rest of the world. This idea intrigued me, as did the idea that magic made this barrier possible. I wish there had been more details into the world though, because it seems like our characters just stampede through it, never really delving into the unique societies that exist within and without their village.

My favorite characters are Meg, Peter and Tessa. Meg's real name is Nutmeg. So cute. Her siblings are also named from spices. She has a missing/dead sister that is her raison d'etre. Peter is a thief who knows how to go anywhere and steal anything. Then there is Tessa, our noble. She has a controlling aunt and is in training to become royalty. Now, the problem is that there is no main character. The story equally revolves around all five of the teenagers. It is hard to invest in a story when you can't hang your hat on one or two characters. I believe the goal might have been to have Meg be the main, but since all the characters have the same about of POV time, it is hard to say. Also, some work on dialogue is needed.

The plot is very fast moving and action packed. Young readers will find it a feisty read. There is not much back plot, so it is hard to figure out what is happening and why someone wanted to destroy their village. We finally get to it at the end of the book, but basically all the kids do is run around escaping from different situations. I feel like this book has great potential, but I noticed many things that needed to be fleshed out better. 3 stars.

Ps- after finishing my review I found out that the author is only 14 years old. So I have to give her props. This was great caliber for one so young, and I think that as she gains more experience and craft we'll see amazing things.


  1. I could never have written a book at age 14. Sounds like this one is a good first effort. I'll be watching for more as this author matures.

  2. This is actually the author's fourth published novel. She wrote the Benotripia trilogy and another when she was eight.

  3. Thanks for the review. This isn't the kind of book I enjoy so will pass on it, but it's good to know about.

  4. Interesting! In your synopsis, I started to lose interest when the people all turned to lava statues (?!), but given that the author is 14 I might have to cut her some slack!

  5. have to say that I wouldn't have guessed this book was written by a 14-year-old if I didn't already know it. I was impressed with a lot of what she did. Sure, there are things that could have made the story flow better, but it was still enjoyable. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work in the future and the growth that will come over time. This is a fun, action-packed adventure that kids (and adults) will enjoy!

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