"review" · arc · fiction · juvenile lit · sci-fi/fantasy · series

{book} the invisible tower

The nearly-twelve daughter inhaled The Invisible Tower, and said she was already for the next. Too bad since Otherworld Chronicles book one was only just getting published. How did I feel about it?

 In Artie Kingfisher’s world, wizards named Merlin and fire-breathing dragons exist only in legends and lore—until the day a mysterious message appears in 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 discover the fantastic destiny that awaits him…

Brimming with powerful sorcerers, ancient magic, and life-changing quests, Otherworld Chronicles is perfect for Rick Riordan, Artemis Fowl, and Ranger’s Apprentice. The first book in this explosive tween trilogy brings the heroes of Arthurian legend to brilliant new life–and the promise of greater danger to come will leave readers breathless for the next volume.–back cover.

I’d been wonder when Arthurian legends would make the rounds in popular juvenile fiction. I understand Meg Cabot has modernized the lore for teen girls and Mary Pope Osborne plays with it a bit (near the beginning at least) with The Magic Tree House for the early chapter books set.

Nils Johnson-Shelton traps Merlin in a tower that has since taken on the appearance of a gaming store in Cincinnati, Ohio–exotic right? He can’t leave, but Artie when comes along, he finally has hope of escape. And why Artie? because he is the genetically replicated (not cloned) sibling of the original King Arthur. Yep, Artie was adopted. Better, there are other coincidences and encounters involving other paralleled Arthurian characters.

Unlike Rick Riordan who educates as he goes, Johnson-Shelton dives right in, and readers will need to do some research on their own. I know a reasonable number of the stories and characters, but I get the feeling I am missing quite a bit. But do you have to know any of the stories to enjoy the read? Not at all.

Gamers will take a special liking to the Otherworld Chronicles because well, access to the Otherworld is via a portal or a gaming console. The virtual representation is a mimicry of an actual overlapping yet paralleled world. There are exchanges between the two worlds and even though some do not care for the idea, they are interdependent. What excites Artie’s adoptive father is Otherworld’s clean energy. Oh yeah, there is a strong eco-message, too.

There are a lot of pop culture references and slang and high-action sequences. Excalibur is painfully convenient, essentially gifting Artie with all the info and skills he needs, but I don’t think young reader’s will mind. There are the bad-ass, the creepy, the ignorant/helpless adults, and a nerd who gets muscles, confidence, and very likely a girlfriend by the end of the Chronicles.

If you are a grown-up who is curious how Johnson-Shelton translates the stories and characters, I would love your thoughts on it. Otherwise, this is most certainly a book for tweens–boys and girls alike! I don’t think it will have the timelessness of Ranger’s Apprentice, or the massive myth-adventure appeal of Percy Jackson and series, but for your reader’s looking for a quick, adrenaline read, pick this one up from your local Library.


The Invisible Tower (Otherworld Chronicles, book 1) by Nils Johnson-Shelton

Harper (HarperCollins), 2012; Tradepaper, 333 pages, ARC

N was lent this book and in turned handed it to me, no compensation involved.


good for the Once Upon a Time VI Challenge

3 thoughts on “{book} the invisible tower

  1. That’s a really interesting review which I enjoyed. I do read a lot of YA, I think this is probably slightly younger than something I would pick up but I liked your thoughts (and now comes out the fickle side) and I like the cover!
    Lynn 😀

    1. thanks. this one is younger than YA, but it should appeal to anyone interested in the time period or classically told tales. …I, too, find myself persuaded by book covers 🙂

  2. My oldest is the same age, so I’ll be keeping a look out for this one. The Riordan books are sure popular in our house, but there’s always room for another favourite series!

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