Cover Image: Ring of Solomon

Ring of Solomon

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Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the arc. This was an action packed adventure that I highly rec for fans of Percy Jackson.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.

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King Solomon is a darling of Jewish education. Schoolchildren everywhere put on plays about the bee that allowed him to solve the Queen of Sheba's riddles. High school students delve deeper, learning about how clever Solomon tricked Ashmedai, king of Sheidim, into helping build the Temple. But few are aware of the criticism of Solomon's reign. Sure, we all know about the too-many-wives thing, but any other substantial debate is largely relegated to the halls of academia. The rest of the world simply sees what it has been taught to see.

In Ring of Solomon, author Aden Polydoros once again plays with the theme of societal perceptions and how people define monstrosity. Although this is his MG debut, fans of Polydoros will recall how his earlier YA fantasies feature characters discovering that classic definitions of 'hero' and 'monster' are not always accurate. Ring of Solomon is no different, although at a level appropriate for younger readers. It asks the reader to see more than what they have been preconditioned to see.

When the main character, Zach, accidentally acquires the ring that Solomon used to bind Ashmedai, he sets off a disastrous chain of events. Now, to prevent the apocalypse, Zach must team up with Ashmodei and defeat a roster of Jewish mythical beasts. His best friend Sandra and his tag along little sister Naomi are his only back up. Sheidim are Jewish demons with a reputation for trickery and evil, but Zach soon discovers there's more to Ashmedai than the stories suggest. In fact, he finds himself weirdly relating to this centuries old creature.

Zach, who is queer and crushing on a classmate that has aligned himself with the class bully, is also misunderstood and an outcast. In an important side plot, Ashmedai helps him find the courage to stand up to an antisemitic bully. More impressive, by pivoting away from any traditional romance arc, the narrative allows Zach to become a fully realized character in his own right without his identity depending on validation from anyone else.

The action is fast paced and the social commentary percolating underneath adds some more personal stakes to complement the end of the world monster fighting. We all have our demons, both large and small, and fighting them isn't always the answer. Sometimes a little deep exploration, a look beyond the surface, will reveal that the monsters are the ones that would shame us for simply being ourselves. Zach and Ashmedai learn that lesson together.

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Zach’s discovery of the Ring of Solomon turns his boring town into one of life-or-death situations as the King of Demons is summoned by the ring. But his appearance is just the beginning of what seems to Zach as an end of the world apocalypse! The book is filled with action, almost from day one, quiet moments where you get to know the characters, flashbacks to get background on the mythology, and humor which makes the book so much fun to read.

Fans of Percy Jackson and other mythology-focused action/adventure books are going to want to grab this one!

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Ring of Solomon was a fun, quick, and action-packed middle grade novel that I flew through in a matter of hours. This story, which is based off Jewish mythology, follows a young queer boy, his best friend, and their newfound ally, who is key to saving the world.

I really enjoyed the Jewish mythology aspect to this story. I’ve only read one other book that features Jewish folklore this way, and it was also a middle grade. I love that younger kids are getting all kinds of representation these days. It’s so important and so desperately needed. Reading about Zach’s adventure was so much fun, and I learned a lot that I didn’t know about the mythology before, which was really cool.

The book features an adventure plot that almost feels like it could be a quest story. For those who enjoy the books in the Rick Riordan presents series, this one will be a hit, especially if you’re looking for something a little shorter. When Zach and his sister accidentally stumble across a magical ring, he has no idea what he’s in for, but he rises to the challenge with agility and determination.

Even though the book is short, the characters all stand out, and their relationships are developed well. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Zach, Sandra, and Ash, the prickly and a little confused demon king. Ash was my favorite, and he had me chuckling a few times at his bewilderment surrounding the human world, but also his awe and curiosity. He might have been thousands of years old, but he fit right in with Zach and Sandra.

Ring of Solomon also includes discussions of identity and bullying. Zach is a queer kid with a crush on another boy in his class but is struggling to articulate his feelings. Additionally, he’s being bullied by other students, which is making it more difficult to find the courage to express how he feels. Zach grows as a character and in his identity throughout the story, and it was something I particularly enjoyed seeing, especially in a middle grade book where topics like these are so important.

My only critique is that I wish it had been just a little bit longer, so we could’ve gotten even more lore and action, but if you’re looking for a quick and fast-paced read, then this book will be perfect for you.

Overall, I enjoyed Ring of Solomon and I’m glad I read it!

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A fun entry into the middle grade action-adventure field; gives the feeling of a Rick Riordan book with queer protagonists and an under-represented field of mythology.

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This was a wonderful Middle Grade read! The characters were well written with unique and relatable voices as well as being well developed. Zach was a likeable protagonist who was struggling with bullying and intersections of his identity. I quite enjoyed how his relationship with his little sister was portrayed as well as his friendships. I thought the evolution of his crush on a classmate was wonderfully done and added something extra special to this read.

Another focus of this work was on Jewish culture and folklore. The author wonderfully incorporated history and folklore into this story in a way that was approachable and interesting. It never took the center stage, but added to Zach’s struggle with his identity, specifically relating to his “Jewishness.” While the plot itself wasn’t the most unique, it was executed exceedingly well. The only slight dislike I had was related to the action scenes – they were long and a little tedious to read, and there were quite a few of them.

I can’t recommend this work enough for Middle Grade readers and older readers alike! It’s fast paced and engaging, and I hope the author writes more works like this.

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This is a fun little young adult story where a gay Jewish pre-teen acquires the Seal of Solomon and defeats monsters with the help of the demon king Ashmedai (in disguise). I've loved a lot of Aden Polydoros's other work, and I think that this'll be a great read for young readers, especially gay and/or Jewish kids! Unfortunately, for me personally, the narrative style was grating, and I found things moved fast and with a sort of handwavey acceptance of everything going on (which might just be different age expectations here). A really great thing for kids to have, but not for me personally.

Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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I think I’ve read everything Aden Polydoros has written (I also have an ARC of his next release – woohoo!), and when he decided to play in the middle grade sandbox, I was excited to see what he came up with.

In the author’s note before the story begins, he mentions that he comes from an interfaith family and discovered his love of horror movies at a young age. Other than a few passing references in a popular MG series, he never came across books with Jewish main characters and struggled to see himself in stories. A few of his novels contain queer Jewish main characters, and it’s wonderful to see that representation available to YA and MG readers today.

The book begins with Zach and his younger sister buying a mysterious ring for their mother’s birthday at a flea market. Little does he know the adventure that awaits him because of that simple transaction. First, he can hear animals talk and converse with them – which is pretty cool. Then the King of Demons (who discovers a strong passion for pizza) appears in Zach’s bedroom, and soon he’s in over his head dealing with a nutty kind of cult and three monsters predicted to start the end times.

Knowing little to nothing about Jewish mythology, I enjoyed learning more about it, and it’s one of my favorite things about this book. The author does a wonderful job of portraying tweens – their interactions, the bottomless stomachs of tween boys (which gave me several laughs), and relationships with their parents and siblings. Zach is also the target of bullying by one student in particular in his class, which sadly is still a reality in our schools, and it’s handled well in the story.

Ring of Solomon is full of action with plenty of humor, and several reviewers have recommended it to fans of Percy Jackson. I was delighted to learn this will be a trilogy, and I’m excited to spend more time with these characters.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to read an early copy of Ring of Solomon. Unfortunately it wasn’t what I was hoping for it to be; the story was promising, and I mostly liked the characters, but the entire thing felt rushed. There wasn’t very much development to any of the characters. There didn’t seem to be any reason for Zach to be so recalcitrant around his parents (aside from age i guess, which is fine and I’d have accepted that except that’s not how it read at alll), and his little sister was unrealistically inconsistent. I have no idea how old she was meant to be, but I’d guess either six or twelve which is an enormous age gap. I felt the same way about his best friends sister too, I have no idea how old she was meant to be either and she felt like a prop more than a person. Most of the characters felt more like props than people. Overall it felt like a kid story written by someone who doesn’t know many kids. There were lots of moments where Zach has to have people define words that are well below the books grade level, which read as pretty condescending to me.

I did like the Jewish aspects of the story, and related to Zach’s internal struggle of being Jewish enough. The story, as I said before, was promising, I just wish it had been developed better.

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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
I really enjoyed the previous book by Aden Polydoros I read, and I was intrigued to read more from him. Ring of Solomon is a middle grade, unlike his previous YA work, but it still include positive and affirming Jewish and queer representation, both of which are incredibly needed for kids today, what with the current political climate we are living in, especially with the strong emphasis on fighting antisemitism and homophobia. I appreciate how the story is about both the sense of being “othered” for those identities, while also celebrating the positives of those identities, especially through spotlighting Jewish mythology.
Zach will be relatable to anyone who has gone through similar experiences, and I love the way he grows, eventually being able to stand up for himself in the face of oppression. Him learning a bit more about his background is also a highlight, developing a sense of pride in what has always made him stick out.
The balance of real life and magical adventure strikes a similar chord to some other middle grade contemporary fantasy, with the most obvious being Percy Jackson, but Polydoros very much has his own story to tell and maintains his own voice, despite the stylistic/narrative parallels.
This is a great start to a new series, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for more middle grade fantasy adventure stories.

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Thank you NetGalley and inkyard press for the arc of this book. Im going to start with the things that i disliked first and end with the things that i did like about this book. Firstly, there was very little to no build up to the plot and the things that happened. Secondly, to go along with the first one, it was too short, now the final version does seem to be longer than the arc that I received so hopefully this and all my other critiques will be fixed. Thirdly the side characters weren’t as developed as i would’ve liked. And my last critique is i didn’t connect with it as much as I wanted to, however this is a middle grade book written for 12 year olds and as I am not a 12 year old I can’t really hold that against it. Moving on to the things that I did like about it, it had short chapters, it puts you right into the action, it made me laugh out loud, and I would love to see little kids read this and hopefully get to see themselves, and/or learn about Jewish mythology. Overall this was an amazing book and it deserves to be read by as many little kids as possible.

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The beachside town of San Pancras is where Zach lives with his parents and younger sister . Zach and his sister is going to the market to buy a birthday gift for their mother. His little sister drags him to a stall where she has found a ring. It looks old and Zach is not sure his mother will like it. He buys it at his sister’s insistence. He puts it in his pocket. When they get home, he asks his dog what he thinks of the person visiting. The dog answers him saying the visitor is boring and he needs a hot dog. Zach manages to grab a cold hot dog for his dog who is grateful.when Zach goes to his bedroom, he takes a closer look at the ring deciding the three stones must be rubies but there is also strange indecipherable script. He makes a. Wish that he could get even withe bully in school. The bully never stops picking on him and getting Zach in trouble. Later the king of demons appears in his bedroom. Eventually Zach decides to abbreviate his name to Ash. Ash is hungry and wants food and drink. When Zach gives him gives 2 slices of leftover pizza, Ash tells him, he never ate anything so delicious. Ash makes his appearance look like a preteen. Zach and Ash goes on a field trip to the zoo. A stranger stands next to him as he look at the lions. He tries to talk to them using the ring. The stranger grabs a king him over the ailing so Zach will let him the ring. The stranger let’s Zach fall into the lions den. Ash rescues him. Ash isn’t happy that Zach had lost the ring to a knight of the local group of the Knights of the Apocalypse. Zach , his sister and Ash become involved in an adventure where they will have to save the world from the monsters coming. Where are these monsters coming from? Will Zach be successful in saving the world?

The author has written a compulsive book that kept me reading a I wanted to know what would happen next. The story has fun, danger, mystery and friendship relationships become very important to the novel. I enjoyed this novel very much and hopes the author turns into the first of a series or a second book. It’s too good to not read, besides I liked the creepy monsters.

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Zach Darlington is a pretty typical kid. He has to deal with a bully, he has a crush on someone who does not share his feelings, and he faces anti-Semitic and homophobic comments. As if he doesn’t have enough to deal with, he is also the proud owner of a magic ring that not only allows him to speak to animals, but also comes with its own King of Demons. Ashmedai, or Ash, is an ancient being who helped King Solomon build his temple, but now Zach, with the help of his friend Sandra, must teach Ash how to act like a normal kid. Plans change when the Knights of the Apocalypse steal the ring with plans to awaken three beasts and lead to the end times. Like I said, Zach is a pretty typical kid.

This is a fun fantasy novel that, in my opinion, every middle schooler can find something to connect with. Themes such as bullying, sexuality and identity, religion, friendship, and good versus evel are found throughout this novel, as well as being a delightful fantastical tale. The story is quick-paced, which I believe will keep kids hooked and reading. The inclusion of characters and events from mythology and lore was a plus, as I feel that may awaken some curiosity in kids. Ring of Solomon is a great middle school novel.

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Ring of Solomon is a fun middle grade adventure/fantasy. Zach and his sister buy a Jewish ring to give to their mother at a flea market. Their mother is part Jewish and collects Jewish artifacts. But Zach discovers the ring is magic when it allows him to speak to animals, and brings Ashmedai, the King of Demons, to his town. Ash is tied to the ring, and also brings the bad news that there's an evil society trying to awaken Jewish monsters and bring about the Apocalypse.

Zach and his friends decide they are going to stop the Apocalypse, with Ash's help, but will they be able to do so without dying, or worse, being bullied at school? Zach is gay, and has a crush on one of his tormentor's friends, which unfortunately doesn't help with the bullying.

Kids might enjoy this book, but this adult thought it was only okay. I liked the diverse representation, but the story wasn't as fleshed out as it should have been. It was an enjoyable read, and kids who like adventure will get a kick out of reading this book. Thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy of this book.

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Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC! I will be withholding my review of this book until the Harper Collins Union receives a fair contract.

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I LOVED this book and I am so excited for my 9 year old to read it!!!! He absolutely loves fantasy books and is a big Greek mythology fan. It is beyond cool that he finally has an action-packed-fantasy-adventure that he can personally relate to as a Jewish boy! A Jewish hero!!! I have long wished for him to have a book to read that centered on a cool Jewish hero, something that had nothing to do with Jewish holidays or history.  Ring of Solomon delivers and then some! I loved that the monsters/demons/creatures in this book are from Jewish mythology and folklore. I love how antisemitism and bullying were handled. I loved the sibling relationship. I found the story to be exciting and didn't want to put it down. I seriously had so much fun reading this. I wish I had a book like this when I was a kid, but I am so excited that it exists for kids today. Five stars from this fantasy-loving-Jewish-mom!

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I am not a tween boy, but Aden Polydoros's Middle Grade debut fantasy Ring of Solomon seems like the kind of high-action, non-stop adventure that today's tween boys would love. Start with the usual problems of middle school life -- antisemitic bully, unrequited crush on a gorgeous boy, caring but "old" parents, and annoying but clever little sister -- and then throw in magical artifacts, talking animals, a demon king, and monsters from Jewish legends, and I was sold.

Recommended for the young adventurer in your house. Bonus points for low-key LGBT representation, friendships that cross ethnic and religious lines, and comeuppances to cheer for. Fans of classic horror films will like some of the references, too.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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3.5 - thank you so much for the chance to read this book early! I loved The City Beautiful by this author and felt pretty mediocre about Bone Weaver so I was excited to try their middle grade.

It was definitely enjoyable and a super quick read, but it wasn't really something that will stick with me. I will say the representation in this story was amazing, the protagonist is a gay Jewish boy and he was a great MC. There is also a Latinx main character.

This would likely be perfect for a 12 year old boy, and I can really see its merits, it just wasn't a new favourite!

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*Thank you so much to the publisher for an EARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Imagine a Jewish Percy Jackson. Keep that image in your mind. Then read Ring of Solomon and tell me they aren't the same thing.

I really liked the multi-religious cast of characters and interfaith families, I think it was portrayed really well. Also having a secular Jewish main character- I could identify loads with having a huge historical interest in Judaism but less religious enthusiasm, just like Zach.

It's so so important for children to see themselves represented in literature, I've said that a million times and I will continue to say so until people listen, and that's what makes Ring of Solomon so imperative.

Compared to Polydoros' other books, this focused on modern antisemitism and what that appears like. Just be warned before reading, but I think he handled it very weell. It's disgusting that Jewish youth have to go through this- to the point where Zach actually seemed desensitized to it. But that's why we need education and books with Jewish and minority ethnic main characters to be widely read.

It was so fast paced, and really fun to read. All of the characters were really realistic as kids- I think Carmen is my favourite. Aden Polydoros'has a genre jumoing talent, and I really look forward to his books in the future.

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