Friday, August 17, 2018

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Snared--Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein


ABOUT THE BOOK

Chopping blades, scorpion nests, giant spiderwebs—no one makes traps better than Wily Snare.

He has never seen the sun, or blue sky, or even his parents. Wily Snare lives underground, creating traps to keep treasure-seekers away from the gold in an ancient wizard’s dungeon. He spends his days mopping up giant slug slime, avoiding poison darts, and herding undead skeletons. It’s all he knows.

Until an unusual band of adventurers—an acrobatic elf, a warrior with a magic arm, and a giant made of moss—successfully defeat Wily’s traps. And they want the ultimate treasure: Wily himself. His skills can help them invade every other dungeon in the kingdom. He might even aid their fight against the Infernal King, whose gearfolk and prisonauts terrorize the land.

But for a boy who has never been outside, dungeons aren’t nearly as scary as the world above. Or an evil king who builds the trickiest traps of all . . .

Snared: Escape to the Above is the first book in a new fantasy adventure series from bestselling author Adam Jay Epstein.

REVIEW

I'll say right at the beginning that I absolutely loved this book.  I loved the characters.  I loved the plot and the surprises that came my way.  And I love the themes.  I am also excited to know that there will be more stories about these characters.  I've read enough fantasy stories over the years that sometimes they all seem to follow the same basic formula.  It's refreshing to come across one like this that feels new.  It's also a pleasant surprise to be surprised as I'm reading.  There were several plot twists that I really didn't see coming which made for a delightful reading experience.  The STEM elements also make this a valuable educational book as well.

Wily Snare makes for a wonderful main character.  He's smart and dedicated, as well as curious.  He works as the trapsmith for Stalag in Carrion Tomb.  He plans and maintains the traps that protect Stalag's treasures.  And he does so successfully.  But he remains curious about the world Above.  Never having seen the outside world, he wonders about it.  And he loves books, despite not knowing how to read.  Things don't seem like they will ever change though, until the day three individuals arrive to steal the treasure and manage to get around his traps.  He's even more stunned when the three want to take him with them. 

As Wily travels with his three new companions, Odette, an acrobatic elf, Pryvyd, a former knight with a floating arm named Righteous, and Moshul, a golem, he's amazed at the world of the Above.  He's also thrilled to have his only friend from below, Roveeka, a hobgoblet.  What Wily doesn't expect is the discovery of the evil of the Infernal King, and the refreshing nature of freedom.  And he wonders about his own family.  Who is he and where did he come from?  As his companions continue with their plan to gather enough treasure to leave the land, Wily goes along with it because he has no where else to go.  But as he learns more about himself, he begins to wonder if maybe he owes more to this land than he ever could have imagined.

Epstein has created a delightful new fantasy series that young fantasy readers are bound to enjoy.  The creativity exhibited in the creation of the characters and plot is fabulous.  And the themes of family, freedom, and sacrifice are powerful ones.  I also liked the theme of books and the value of reading.

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