FANTASTIC FRIDAY: The Invisible Tower by Nils Johnson-Shelton


Part of the spell has already been broken.

The first stones have begun to crumble.

In Artie Kingfisher'’s world, wizards named Merlin, fire-breathing dragons, and swords called Excalibur exist only in legends and lore—until the day his video game Otherworld springs to life.

You are special, Arthur,

Says the mysterious message in his game.

In one week’s time you will come to me at the it.

Cryptic clues lead Artie to a strange place called the Invisible Tower, where he discovers that nothing in his life is as it seems. Artie is none other than King Arthur, brought to life in the twenty-first century. Artie has won the battle in the virtual Otherworld—now the key to saving the real Otherworld lies in his hands as well.

Green dragons, hungry wolves, powerful sorcerers—suddenly Artie must battle them all as he wields Excalibur and embarks on a quest worthy of the Knights of the Round Table. With his sister, Kay, by his side, Artie steps into the Otherworld —straight toward his destiny.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from Goodreads)

While a shocking number of future New York Times bestselling writers were born in log cabins on dirt floors to unwed mothers, I was born in a hospital, though my mom and dad weren't married—which is why I have two last names. I have to say that even though it may sound nice and literary, having two last names is a pain in the butt, so if you're thinking of doubling the surnames of your offspring, may I humbly suggest no.

Now you're probably wondering why my parents weren't married, and I'll tell you. They were more or less hippies, and I was born in San Francisco in the early 1970s. I can assure you that those two factors went into making a lot of kids like me.

Anyway, I lived in a nice home in San Francisco with both my folks until the age of four, at which point we moved to New York City. That's right, my parents decided to move to New York City in the mid-1970s, which means they were either super-cool or super-dumb or super-shrewd about real estate investing (I can assure you it was not the latter). My mom worked at The New Museum, and my dad was a painter, and we lived in a loft, and I grew up around artists and their kids,...

Hobbies, Interests, and Enthusiasms:

I am enthusiastic about internet cat videos, long walks in the woods, my kids, and rock climbing (one of those is a fib). I also like video games way more than a grown man should, and I think Tokyo is the coolest place I've ever been. Oh, and deep-fried gator poppers. Those are pretty swell, too.


I confess, I didn't enjoy this as much as I had hoped. I mean, the story was fine, the plot was action-packed and moved quickly.  The characters were interesting and easy to follow, although they felt rather two-dimensional to me, not much depth to them.  Artie and his sister seemed to adapt rather too easily to the shocking revelations presented to them. The settings were great, I liked the idea of two worlds hooked together that effected each other and being able to move between them.  The fantasy elements were fun, man-wolves, a tree-person and his minions, and of course, the sword Excaliber.  I wasn't particularly happy about one thing the author did regarding the sword at the end of the book, but I can't say more than that because I will spoil the book, but it didn't seem to make any sense to me and even in fantasy stories, I like things to make some sense at least.

Still, the book is a fun one with plenty of magic and adventure and middle graders will undoubtedly enjoy it.  I just prefer more character development in the books I read.  



  1. What a great cover! The magical world sounds interesting. I love fantasy. This sounds like a book that a lot of kids will enjoy. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Great review, with the video game fantasy aspects I can see kids enjoying this one.

  3. Worlds colliding sounds fun, but if a book doesn't have good characters...yeah, that's usually a deal-breaker for me!

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