Dragons, giants, and mermaids are only real in fairy tales, right? That’s what Candace used to think. Then one stormy night, her little brother goes missing and she is visited by a stranger who reveals to her he is a wizard.
Handing her a magical amulet, he transports her to the magical land of Calvacade and sends her on a quest to save a fellow wizard from the evil clutches of a powerful mage named Enchantra. Candace meets a host of people and creatures who help her along her journey, including: a scholarly unicorn, an inept fairy, a dragon who refuses to eat humans, and the handsome temporary king, Dagan.
Time is running out as Candace and her friends battle changelings, lightning wraiths, goblins, and much much more. Will this ragtag group of misfits be able to stop the scourge of Enchantra as she attempts to take over Calvacade? Can Candace learn to use the amulet in defense of her new friends?
Find out in this new and upcoming epic young adult fantasy novel by Cindy Winget.
This story started out slow for me. I felt like a large part of that was because of too much narration and description versus emotional connection and action. It was about a quarter of a way into the book that the adventure became interesting enough to me. After that, I became increasingly interested in the characters and their success.
The fantasy land Calvacade is rather unique. There are the usual fantasy characters with a few new types of creatures. Yet the usual fantasy characters often have different traits than usually found in fantasy novels. I liked this a lot!
A Wizard Council normally rules Calvacade until a bitter sorceress named Enchantra tries to take over. She begins hunting down the wizards and other magical creatures to drain them of their magic. The wizards crown Dagan as temporary king before they go into hiding. One wizard sends Candace, a seemingly ordinary girl on Earth, special dreams to prepare her to assume her mysterious role as Protector of Calvacade.
The main character Candace is brave and kind-hearted. I liked her commitment to solving the quest mysteriously given her with little explanation.
Candace becomes incensed with the temporary king before she even meets him. She blames him for not protecting the creatures of Calvacade from Enchantra. When she finally meets Dagan, she does not realize he is the king which allows for a delightful scene.
Despite her favorable first impression, she remains angry with him. Her attitude came across to me more annoying than spunky at this point. Candace’s attitude toward Dagan soon changes. She becomes infatuated with him as she sees his devotion to the creatures of his kingdom.
I think a little more editing and perhaps shortening some scenes and lengthening others would improve the book. Despite a couple other things, such as the tiny fairy shrieking* when excited, that occasionally detracted from my enjoyment of the book, I find I overall enjoyed it. Candace’s sudden transition from the safety of her home to a mysterious magical world reminds me in several aspects of The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.
*It’s possible this just bothered me because as a mother of seven I may have become highly sensitized to excess noise. I just might tell her if she was at my house, “Sorry Miss Fairy! You have to go outside to shriek.” Of course, outside is where most of this occurs anyway on their adventure. That’s a good thing! Or maybe not if there are goblins about.
The question remains at the end of the book if there is a possible future between Candace and Dagan. I am eager to read Candace’s further adventures in book two and hope there may be a third book as well.
If you are looking for some clean fantasy, I hope you will give Calvacade: The Unlikely Heroes a try. It is a fun story.
I received a free advanced reader copy of this book and then bought my own copy to share with my kids. All opinions are completely my own.
About the Author
Cindy Winget has always loved to write. Her first foray into the writing realm involved illustrated notebooks full of stories about her stuffed animals. She has since honed her writing skills, but retains the delight and excitement of writing that she felt during those first attempts. She is a graduate of Weber State University and lives in Roy, Utah, with her husband Devan and three-year-old daughter Daphne; with another one on the way. You can always find her curled up on the couch with a good book, jotting down notes for the many ideas she has for future books, or spending time in nature.