by Braden Bell
When Connor Dell, his twin sister Lexa, and their friend Melanie Stephens notice a stranger stalking them they little realize that life as they know it is about to dramatically change. But no one else seems to be able to see their stalker and he seems to have a strange power that seems to draw them to him. Could this stranger have anything to with the kidnappings that have started occurring?
When English teacher Mrs. Grant overhears Lexa and Melamie talking about the stranger her summons Dr. Timberi to the classroom. The next day everything the three do seems to earn them demerits and detention that afternoon. Melanie is convinced that the teachers are going to kill them because of a partial conversation that she overhears. When the three try to escape the teachers and the campus they are pursued by the teachers and black hooded men whom the the teachers refer to as Darkhands.
When Dr. Timberi tells them that their lives are all in danger they are surprised to learn that it's because they've all just Kindled. The three are then put through intense training to help them to fight off the the Darkhands and their attempts to kidnap them. The teachers are guarding them at night to stop any attempts on them so that they will not be captured.
The Magisterium decides to send the Phalanx to guard Connor, Lexa, and Melanie from the Darkhands. When Notzange sends a sigil to Lexa, Lexa becomes a high priority target because of her link. The Darkhands redouble their efforts to capture the three children as Melanie's mother, under the direction of Dr. Timberi, races home. But when all the parents were brought together at the Stephens' home they forbid the teachers and the kids from continuing their training.
When the Dell and Stephens families go to Disney World for spring break their parents befriend Kelli and Kyle Black. But something about the Blacks unsettles Conner and Lexa. The fun at Disney World is soon forgotten as the families are attacked by Darkhands. A battle takes place in the Small World ride. With their parents permission a sigil is sent to Dr. Timberi. With the arrival of Dr. Timberi, Mrs. Grant, Madame Cumberland and the Twilight Phalanx the attack is ended but not before the Blacks, Madi, and Connor are missing. Madi is located, but according to her Kyle took Connor as he saved Madi. Soon the Phalanx receive reports that the Umbra are moving on the park so everyone except Mr. Dell is taken to a sanctuary called Mockingbird Cottage.
When Connor is taken into one of the tunnels by an agent of darkness he rescued by the cherubim who give him a choice. Connor can return to his family or enter the realm of darkness to free those imprisoned by the darkness. Connor decides to continue on with Mr. Stanley to the realm of Lady Nightwing. Connor stops them from capturing the energy of a kindling boy, but at a terrible cost to himself. He is tortured and then told that he has become a Darkhand!
To try to determine Connor's location Lexa sends out her sigil that the other Magi are tracking. But Lexa and Melanie are soon trapped just as Connor is. Can they break through the darkness that threatens to destroy them or will they lose their souls to the evil that is closing in?
The Kindling is an exciting page turner sure to capture and hold the attention of middle grade readers. Fast paced excitement will have you anticipating book 2!
I received a digital loan of this title from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Author Interview with Braden Bell
1) Where did the idea for The Kindling come from?
One spring night, there was a terrible storm going on. My family was at church and when they got home, my son told me about a man they had driven past on their way home. He wore a black cape and was walking across people's lawns. My son wondered what he could possibly be doing--and that question sparked a story in my mind. I stayed up quite late that night, writing the fight scenes in the choir room and the cafeteria. Then, I took the next few months and filled in the rest.
2) Which character do you most connect with?
Good question. Probably Dr. Timberi. We teach the same subjects, are both getting a bit round, and have doctorates. However, there are some differences as well. He's sort of the teacher I'd like to be, not who I think I am. I wish I were as quick and together as he is. I also connect a lot with Madame Cumberland because she loves her students so much, and I really do love mine. Next to my wife and children, they are the biggest parts of my life.
3) Are any of the teachers based on any teachers you ever had in school?
Not really. They were sort of suggested by some teachers I've worked with but evolved very quickly into their own people.
4) What is your favorite scene? Why this scene?
I really love the fight scene on the Small World ride. It was a lot of fun to write, and for some reason, the idea of a fight between the forces of Light and Dark in that particular place makes me laugh.
5) Are Lexa, Conner, and Melanie based on anyone even loosely?
That is a kind of interesting question. I started this book a little over three years ago. When I first started, they were based on some students at the time. I was especially looking at mannerisms and the way they spoke. However, within a few pages they began to evolve. Within a few months, they were totally unique. And, in the past three years, I've had many students who seemed to fit them in some way as well.
6) How many books do you plan on having in the series? When can we expect Book 2?
I have outlined 4 books. I'm currently working on Book 2. The publisher wants it by August with a potential release date of next summer--but that will all depend on sales of The Kindling. (Okay readers get out and buy a good book and tell all your friends! Make some requests at your library too if you want book 2)
7) As a writer is there a question you wish someone would ask you but never has? How would you answer this question?
That is a really good question. And I'm sure there is--I just can't think of it at the moment!
Thanks for taking time to answer these questions, Braden, and giving your readers an new insight into The Kindling.
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