This was a great, interesting, engaging story. I am sure many children will love to read it and I highly recommend that they do so. Many adults, including myself, will like it as well. The world was fascinating and magical, and most of the characters were well developed and interesting. It was a really fun story and I can’t wait to share it with both of my children when they become of reading age. I believe that any child 10 and up would enjoy the story or children 8 and up who can take on a hefty 300+ page book. There is nothing inappropriate for younger readers. This was a fantastic middle-grade book! Although part of a series, it can easily stand alone.
The Tree of Mindala is a really interesting story and a great start to a new series. I received a free digital copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review so here it goes….
It all began forty years ago when Wunderwood became attacked by Thornton, a warlock whose soul purpose is to steal the essence of the Tree of Mindala so that he alone can have the most powerful magic. In order to do so, he poisons the land, killing everything except the Tree of Mindala (immune to the poison) in order to find it. Luckily, Truman discovers that he, along with another, have the ability to stop Thornton and lock him away before its too late.
Present day finds us in the company of Miranda Moon and her brother, Marcus, both of whom are nearly 12. When Miranda discovers a snow globe owned by her late grandmother Sunny and tips it upside down, she and her brother are thrown into the magical world of Wunderwood where they realize that the name “Moon” is well known throughout the land. At the same time, Thornton is released from his prison and begins to wreck havoc on Wunderwood once again. It is up to Miranda and Marcus with the help of some others to save Wunderwood before Thornton can destroy it and steal the essence of The Tree of Mindala.
I am pleased to say that I really enjoyed this story, but would have enjoyed it more were I younger. The pacing of the story is great, but not perfect. I felt like some parts were a somewhat slow, while others just went by too quickly. The characters appear to travel from one part of the world to another and it just went by too quickly. I wanted more exploring! It also wasn’t very complex nor difficult to understand.
I was glad to find that it wasn’t too predictable, which tends to be the case in many middle-grade books. I didn’t know if they would be able to stop Thornton again and I didn’t realize that that was where the Tree of Mindala was!, though I should have seen that.
I enjoyed the characters quite a bit, but they weren’t developed and distinguished enough for me. I love it when I can tell who is speaking without it being said and that wasn’t the case. There were also quite a few characters, too many for my taste, and it makes it hard to develop characters properly.
Miranda is a great character because she is very relate-able. She has a terrific imagination and believes things to be real that others do not and so has a real knack for creating stories. She is also terrified of water, the reason not being explained until much later in the book. Miranda is also headstrong and determined and understands what is right. Not only does she have all of these qualities, she is also intelligent, which I love in children’s stories. She picks up on the behavior of others and can figure things out for herself. Miranda develops as the story progresses, eventually overcoming her fear of water and learning how to make difficult decisions.
Although not developed as well as Miranda, Marcus is a decent character. He is smart, popular, and unlike his sister, doesn’t believe in anything magical. He is also easily scared, which doesn’t seem to take him too long to overcome once in Wunderwood. It appears that he has a great relationship with his sister because they don’t seem to fight and bicker as often as most siblings would and they really care for each other.
Raina is another of the main characters and I love her as well. I love her defiant personality, practicing magic even when Thornton forbids it. She always finds a way. She is also very clever, caring, and intelligent. I loved the plan she came up with in the story! Though I couldn’t believe Thornton actually fell for it!
Skye is also an interesting character. Although I can’t remember the name, he is so fascinating because he has the ability to shape-shift into whatever is most convenient for him at the time. This makes him the perfect spy! I do wish he had a bit more of a personality to go along with his awesome ability. I just wanted something more….
I am still not sure how I felt about Thornton. He just wasn’t as terrifying to me as he was to the residents of Wunderwood. I think this was because we didn’t see many acts of evil, except for him poisoning the land, forcing people to follow him, and not allowing people to use magic. I think he needed to do something more…..well….evil. I think that deep down there was still a lot of good in him. He also wasn’t very consistent. He was smart and times and rather dumb at others. He easily fell for Raina’s trick which shouldn’t have worked as well as it did.
I would say that those are the main characters of the story, but there are some interesting secondary characters as well including Leaf, but this review would be way too long if I took the time to discuss them all.
I also wanted to mention that the names the author gives to her characters (Leaf, Skye, Thornton, Sunny, Petal, Ivy, etc) are very cute. They are all related to nature or plants, which is a big part of the world. The names of the various places (Conundrum Cave, Prophecy Pond) are also fun!
The world building was well done and detailed, but I think being an adult I want to know even more about the world. Learning a bit about the history of the land, its magic, and its residents was informative and interesting. I think that the main focus of the story was learning about the Moon family, so hopefully the next book explores more of the world of Wunderwood. I want to see more of the other beings that exist within Wunderwood as well as some other locations.
The magic system was pretty simple, but of course, I was hoping for something more complex and difficult, but I guess that would be difficult to find in middle-grade fantasy. It was interesting however, in that the magic can be absorbed just by living there as long as you have Wunderwood blood in your veins (I believe), and that it comes from the plant-life.
The only things that ever really bothered me about the writing were a few typos and the use of the word humongous, which just shouldn’t be used and was several times. There are other ways of describing something that is incredibly large. Otherwise, the writing didn’t distract too much from the story and all the dialogue was well done and believable.
I LOVE this cover! It is gorgeous! It’s well designed, attractive, eye-catching, and totally makes sense for the story. The title is also perfect too since the Tree of Mindala is a huge part of the story!