Erec Rex has always had some strange things growing up–an alarm clock that grows more obnoxious the longer you stay in bed, a toothbrush with a mind of it’s own, a coat rack that dance–but that doesn’t mean there’s magic in the world. Right? He and his family of adopted siblings have been moving from place to place for a while now, his mother June unable to support them otherwise. But when she goes missing and Erec sets out to find her, he, along with Bethany (a girl being horribly mistreated by her uncle and determined to run away), discovers a whole knew world where magic is part of the every day lives of the people. And, there is a contest being held for the children of the land. The three winners will become the kings or queens of the realm, magical scepters and all. But there’s a plot afoot for someone more powerful and sinister to take control. Erec and Bethany need to survive (and maybe even win!) the contest, rescue Erec’s mother, and uncover who is behind the plot. But can Erec trust his mother when he discovers that she’s lied to him all his life? Will he be able to uncover the schemers in time?
There’s a lot of great stuff in this series, from the way the two worlds (The Kingdom of the Keepers of Magic and Upper Earth for the Losers of Magic) relate to each other, the dangers and surprises, and of course the case of mysterious identities. So much is happening in this book but Kingsley manages to keep them all clear and on track so you never find yourself wondering “what just happened?!?” She manages a Snape moment of guess who the bad guy really is and plants doubts in your mind at every turn.
There were moments when it was frustrating to watch Erec ask the wrong questions or forget to ask something important that could have answered his questions, but I suppose things might have been to easy then (and he likely would have been refused the answer anyway). There are still some mysteries left unanswered, but there are more books in the series, so I’m not concerned about that.
The one thing it felt like was missing is a bit of a clearly defined explanation about the rules of magic. It almost seems like it can do anything. Not quite, it does point out a few things it can’t do and the different areas of magic (learnt, bought, or inborn) but I would have liked to know more about it’s abilities and limits and about the training process for apprentices.
I look forward to book number two, I think it will continue to answer more questions about people’s bloodlines and family history and can’t to see where the twelve tasks Erec must complete will take us.