Rafe Ryder and the Well of Wisdom

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

I was looking forward to this book, the cover is lovely, bright and inviting. Great start. Unfortunately, the story didn't live up to anything i had in my head. The setting is one that has been done before and i'm afraid, done better. There were parts of the story that were new and refreshing and portrayed characters that i've not seen or met before. My biggest problem was that nothing really seemed to  flow or connect me, as the reader, to  what was going on. I understand it is a fantasy but even so, there's normally something that grabs me and excites me. Just not here. I finished it, but really that was more that i personally don't like giving up on books. This may appeal to the younger readers, i just can't think off the top of my head who i'd recommend it too. 
Thank you to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for my ARC. 
All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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Rafe Ryder is sent to live with his grandmother in Maine after his father falls ill. Only thing he wants to do is return home to his family, but those plans change when a simple tromp through a corn maze transports him and his classmates to a school in another realm full of magical creatures. He will begin a search to find his way home and save the heavens.

Although, Rafe Ryder and the Well of Wisdom features a magical school setting that has been done before, it showcases angels, leprechauns, and fairies, which were  unique to this book. The writing was well done with lots of action to keep middle graders at the edge of their seats. Overall, the book was fairly good. However, the cast of characters were quite lengthy and at times they were very difficult to keep up with. I felt that as an adult, if I were having trouble with this a middle school child might find themselves lost within the first few chapters. Also, characters voices just didn't ring true to me. They seemed so much more mature in their manner of speaking than the students I work with at school, Their ages would have seemed much more appropriate for their speech if they were closer to 16-17 year of age. While this isn't a huge turn off, some kids may find it hard to connect to the characters if they don't seem to be on the same maturity level as themselves.

Overall, the book was good, just not a favorite, and I may find myself looking for the follow-up in the future. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of the book given in exchange for an honest review.
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This story had a complicated and unusual premise. Rafe, already a fish out of water, is transported (along with his fellow students) to another planet populated by angels, gargoyles, leprechauns, and dark spirits, where he must come to terms with his true nature.  There is an element of spirituality in the plot line I've not encountered in MG literature before, and that some readers will really be drawn in by.  It's a perfect book for children who love the idea of parallel universes and alternate realities.
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Rafe Ryder is a gifted 12 year old who has been sent to live with his grandmother due to his father's terminal illness. His grandmother is the headmistress of a private school, which runs a Halloween event for the children each year where they have to get through a corn maze and solve riddles to win a trip to Paris. Something goes very wrong, and Rafe and his classmates get transported to another world - a world which is a training facility for angels and fairies...

This book is confusing from the very beginning, and the plot feels very loosely hung on a few set pieces that the author wanted to include. Early on, there is a scene where Rafe and a girl have to fight massive balls of fire on a beach. A mysterious man appears and helps them. Both children decide never to mention this again, and the book just moves on to the corn maze plot. This girl also has a hawk which comes when called by name, which hints at something magical, but is not fully explained. The corn maze scenes are even more confusing, because the characters have no idea what is real or what is not, but more importantly, neither does the narrative voice, so the reader is left completely in the dark. Then, just like that, that bit of the plot is done with too, and the children are on this other world, having to go to angel school. There's no driving force or connective tissue - we're as in the dark as Rafe is, which means there's little to hook your interest on. 

I found it hard to connect to any of the characters, because they all spoke so formally. They are highly intelligent for 12 year olds, yes, but even the most gifted child still doesn't speak like an academic essay all the time! I also really wasn't a fan of the way that Seamus the leprechaun's accent was spelled out phonetically. This was overkill and made him seem more like a caricature than a properly written character. The world building around the angels was pretty weird - in a world with fairies, vampires, werewolves, and so on, why include angels? There's no Christian angle on the angels, particularly, which is fine, but then why not use another creature?

I think that Rafe Ryder may well appeal to some people who like their children's fiction to be 'worthy', but it's really not for me. I'd liken this to 'A Wrinkle in Time'- an ambitious novel with some really interesting ideas, and a heavily science-and-learning based theme, but a novel that tries too hard and for me, ultimately sacrificed its character-building in its execution.
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I haven't finished this book, I was very much bored and couldn't care for any of the numerous characters, so gave up reading rather soon, I'm afraid...
The writing is very precise and conscientious, but also very bland. Nothing really bad but a feeling of wrongness. Sometimes it's easy for me to pinpoint the reasons for me not liking a book, but sometimes there are much more elusive.
Objectively: the characters are supposed to be twelve years old but sounded quite artificial, thinking and speaking like much older persons. Gifted children are still children, but some writers seem to forget that! Another point irked me: the beginning of the book is nowadays, in our world; but when fantastic or incredible things happen, the characters are just vaguely surprised - as if they know that the story will soon be a fantasy one!
Yes, quite vague impressions. It's why, even if this book was so wrong for me as to prevent me to read it on, I chose to note it a "maybe" on Netgalley. Its atmosphere sometimes reminded me of "The famous five"'s books; maybe that will help some readers to read it or not?
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A high-flying fantasy adventure that is perfect for young adult readers (and even those of us who are older and like to dabble in YA fiction).  Author L.L. Reynolds crafts an spell-binding story with likeable characters and palpable conflict.

Rafe Ryder and the Well of Wisdom would make a welcome addition to personal, library, and classroom shelves.  I'm hoping to read more by this author very soon.
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Thank you very much for making this volume available for my review. The appeal of this particular book was not evident to me, and if I cannot file a generally positive review I prefer simply to advise the publisher to that effect and file no review at all.
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