Tell me honestly, do you love reading Middle Grade? I’ve been escaping into these whimsical worlds since March and loving every single experience! No other genre can make me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. So, of course, I had to jump on the chance of reading the sequel in the middle-grade series by B.A. Williamson.
The first book, «The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray» came out in 2018 and I had a lot of fun trying to come up with adjectives to describe Gwendolyn that would start with the first letters of rainbow colors. I know! I have the craziest ideas sometimes! 😀
Since Gwendolyn lives in a Gray world that has no colors, besides her wonderful red hair, I thought it would be appropriate to bring some color in her life that way.
Heroes never return from adventure unchanged, and Gwendolyn Gray knows this better than anyone. She faces a new darkness within herselfwith no help or comfort from her friends Sparrow and Starling. On top of that, the City is only getting worse. When the Faceless Gentlemen return to menace her again, Gwendolyn escapes to the lands of the Fae. But even the dreamlike Faeoria holds dangers that even she could never have imagined. Gwendolyn must learn to master her magic and manage her internal struggles if she ever hopes to defeat the villainous forces that control the City, find Sparrow and Starling, and save the people she loves
Thank you Netgalley and North Star Editions, Jolly Fish Press, for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.
The best features of middle-grade books, for me, are (1) friendship and (2) adventure. Gwendolyn Gray series definitely has both, with some magic and deep character study sprinkled on top.
Gwendolyn Gray lives in a dystopian world that has no imagination or color. People who live in the City are bleak and uninterested. They are kept from exploring their creativity and imagination by the authorities. Of course, Gwendolyn Gray with her wild red hair and mind that creates a world of its own won’t be a “good” citizen.
In the first book, we saw Gwendolyn’s first adventure and her attempt to help the citizens of the City. Both books read very easily on their own, each one has that sense of conclusion at the end as most middle-grade stories do. However, I wouldn’t advise reading them out of order, as the first book introduces very important characters and events that carry on into the next installment.
«The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray» had many interesting elements. But sadly, I didn’t like it as much as the first book. And I feel like it will be the case of whether you like or dislike stories about Fae.
I don’t dislike Fae in books, but I’m a little bit tired of them and want something else. I had a big dose of faeries and Fae worlds with Sarah J. Maas and Cassandra Clare, that I tend to stay away from fae-focused books at the moment.
At no point did I expect for B.A. Williamson to also explore the Fae world. It was still very interesting and very well done, but once again, the trope of beautiful but cunning Faes didn’t really appeal to me.
In the second book, Gwendolyn is also a little bit older and we see that transition from middle-grade to YA. There is a big focus on her mental state and how she deals with it. While I liked the use of magic to emphasize her mental struggles and angry outbursts, I didn’t like the mopping around and everyone staying on their tip-toes around her.
As you can see, this book had a lot of elements I loved [friendship, magic, inventions, different worlds], but also had elements that put me off [Fae, Gwendolyn’s character path].
Overall, it was a very solid middle-grade to YA transitional book. If you love Fae and their tricks, you will enjoy this book way more than I did. The next book in this series will probably be even more YA than this one, and I don’t think that I will be continuing with this series.
What are your favorite middle-grade books? Have you read or heard about this one?
Let me know in the comments below!