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A Giant's Trek by Nick Stella

Ash isn’t the biggest giant living in Haven-Home. He’s not even as big as his twin brother, Oak, who’s on the path to taking over from their father as village chief one day. Unlike the warriors in his family, Ash wants to learn incantation: the magic of wood, stone, water and fire.

Now that they’re twelve, Ash and Oak must go on a dangerous trek to prove themselves giant warriors, and they must each bring back something with which to defend Haven-Home from the prowling wolves that threaten all who live there.

Will Ash’s quest for incantation serve him well on the trek? Or will it bring even greater danger to Haven-Home?

This middle-grade fantasy adventure following a young giant who defies family expectations on a coming-of-age quest is author Nick Stella's debut.

It's a vividly imagined story, with lots of great world-building. However, at times that's all the story becomes, an endless trek through different spaces.

There were plenty of passages that interrupted the flow and pace, either through too much world-building or random background characters - Bernard the toad, for example, was just a distraction that offered nothing to move the story forward or add to the excitement.

The action, when it comes, feels like a fizzer. It's bubbling there, but the long-winded trek to get there made the real action anti-climatic.

Some of the characters are good, and there's some great lessons for readers there. Ash shows readers it's okay to be born different and to feel uncomfortable in your skin. On the other hand, Avalanche feels formulaic and again, the potential just doesn't match the execution.

The book has definitely been set up to be the opener in a series, and perhaps without all the world-building required in subsequent books, Stella will iron out these issues.

Aimed at middle-grade readers, it's a bit longer than expected. However, short chapters make it manageable and great as read-aloud - the story did start as a bedtime story for Stella's children after all. A map is included, and readers will want to check it regularly.

A Giant's Trek is a vividly-imagined tale and a promising debut held back by a few stumbling blocks.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Text Publishing


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