Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard: a Peter Nimble Adventure by Jonathan Auxier. Abrams, 2016. 454 pages.
What It Is: A wild fantastic read for middle grades.
What It’s About: Sophie Quire is a quiet book mender who has been seeking out and saving fairy tales whilst missing her long-deceased mother, learning the ways of the old city’s winding streets, and helping her father in his bookshop. The city, led by Inquisitor Prigg, is planning for a large celebratory pyre in the coming days, a pyre that will hold all the (now banned) fairy tales and inventive stories Sophie and her father cherish. Peter Nimble and his trusty sidekick Sir Tode show up with a new-to-Sophie magical book in need of repair, and Sophie lands in the adventure of a lifetime. A magical book, truly evil villains, stories that come to life, and Peter’s desperado lifestyle make the book a wild ride.
What Works: Auxier weaves such amazingly intricate and exciting stories. Sophie Quire is a perfect companion book to the first Peter Nimble book with new, nuanced characters and a fantastic expansion of Peter’s original world. Auxier plunges the reader into the middle of the action on the first page, and the story doesn’t rest until the very last page. Friendship and family relationships are tested and hold true, and even a villain or two appears to soften. Auxier’s villains are true villains, though, and he’s not afraid of violence and blood and gore–fairy tale style, that is. Nothing is gratuitous, nothing is happening in our real world, and justice wins out. Perfect for middle grade kids! The theme of the importance of words and stories is nothing new, but Auxier makes it fresh. Additionally, the cover! Auxier gets the best covers for his books.
What Doesn’t Work: not much! The book is a tad long, but most kids who enjoy fantasy are used to hefty tomes.
What I Think/Recommend: Definitely purchase for library collections! For kids who love fantasy, this is a great gift option. There is magic, evil villains, and other usual fantasy material, so if your family is hesitant about fantasy, this may not be the best fit. That being said, the magic in this is not Harry Potter style with kids casting spells right and left. Rather, the magic comes from the books and the villains.