21. Nov, 2017

The 'Poo Book' Blog Reviews Kalika Magic for Books On Tour


Friday 1 December, the 'Poo Book' Blog is delighted to introduce Karen Hughes and her fourth novel in the Kalika Magic series, The Howling Sands, as a part of her Books On Tour promotion."


The Book: The Howling Sands

Kalika Magic, Book 4      

Self-published, Nov 2017 by Karen Hughes

Available to purchase online at: www.kalikamagic.com

Paperback AU$21.95

Follow Kalika Magic on Facebook



The Intro: Welcome to the final stop on the Kalika Magic Books On Tour #Blog Blitz #Day5. The ‘Poo Book’ Blog is keen for its chance to review Karen Hughes’ 4th instalment in the Kalika Magic fantasy series, for middle-grade readers, The Howling Sands.

About the Author: Having started her own community newspaper at the age of ten, Karen Hughes’ early love of writing never dissipated, nor did her entrepreneurial spirit. Ten years ago, she embarked on writing the Kalika fantasy series, which has been likened to The Chronicles of Narnia and Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest. In 2017, she is self-publishing the fourth book in this popular series and taking her message to the middle-graders of Australia, through school visits and creative writing workshops, which can be booked through her beautifully designed website.

Talk about a fantasy fiction empire in the making! Formerly practicing as a senior lawyer in Canberra, Hughes now enjoys the life of a writer and a professional speaker/facilitator, whilst basing herself and her family in the beautiful environs of the Hunter Valley. It's the perfect place to let her ever-active imagination, run wild. 

About the Book: ‘Whirling sand ghosts, secret potions and a furious firebird… The adventure continues in The Howling Sands.’

I’m not sure if you get much better than this for a teaser. It offers the suggestion that you are being drawn into a continuing saga and at Book 4 in the series, this is most certainly the case, with further instalments planned for 2018 and beyond.

I need to preface this review by admitting I would have benefitted from reading Emerald Child, The Shaman’s Secret and The Sorrow of the Waters, before embarking on The Howling Sands. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be read as a stand-alone adventure but there is a great deal of assumed knowledge in Book 4, as with any good fantasy saga. I’d suggest that you either start collecting the books from the beginning, if you know you have a mature and engaged, young reader of fantasy on your hands. Or, dip your toe in the water with Hughes’s latest tome and if your child loves it, they can play an exciting game of catch-up, before Book 5 is released.

When I spoke earlier of books ‘Kalika’ has been likened to, the first thing that came to mind for me, was Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. This legendary writer and his books, represent what the fantasy genre is all about: - an extraordinary web of characters, the presence of mythical creatures, complex worlds, societies, cultures and languages, the threat of impending battle and good vs. evil. 

In just the space of one 360-page book, Hughes employs and manipulates all these classic ‘totems’ of the genre; no mean feat in terms of storytelling. And by all suggestions, the continuing narrative that has come before, establishes the never-ending quest, to no lesser a degree.

The Plot: Though I enjoyed the book, it is not easy for me to sum up the plot of The Howling Sands. As reader, I had the feeling that a lot was happening ‘off camera’ or ‘stage left’, to borrow terms which may help to convey the impression I was left with. The book’s promotional blurb sums it up best…

One hundred years ago, the mysterious Veladin vanished into the earth. Now Kai, Indie, Nima and Jabar must find them, or they’ll never see Shaman Yanti again. The desert sands are shifting. Time is running out. Their only hope is a reckless wind spirit, but even the wind has secrets …

The pace of Kalika Magic stops for no one. Once you embark on this adventure, you’re in for a wild, suspenseful ride and when I say things happen off camera, it means that the author doesn’t spoon-feed her audience. There are parallel streams of events to keep up with and frequent shifts in the narrator’s spotlight. If something important happens to one of the five young heroes (Indie, Jabar, Kai, Nima or Willem), when they are not in the spotlight, we find out in retrospect. There is no dilly-dallying with back story and the characters just get on with it. After all, it is up to them to save the world, before the Maleficent-esque villain Sofia, destroys it.

‘Resilience, self-confidence, and having the courage to follow your heart are major themes in my books,’ Hughes says. This is evidenced on every page of The Howling Sands, with child protagonists who are real and flawed, yet strong, defiant and fiercely loyal. Good role models for the target audience, who will be lapping up every twist and turn.

Recommended For: Karen Hughes’s series is marketed for middle grade readers from 9 years of age and upwards. Following on from earlier impressions in this review, I would take this further and describe it as a dense read, for keen and mature readers, the likes of whom may be devouring the Harry Potter series or classics like The Wizard of Earthsea of 'The Rings' (which inspired the author).

The Howling Sands and its fore-runners are for true-fans of the fantasy genre. It’s an intelligent read and won’t patronise its young audience with over-exposition. You need to concentrate and you need to keep up. For those that do, it’s a gripping and rewarding read, that is likely to foster even more devotees of Hughes’ work.

If your child is an advanced reader at nine and loves alternative worlds, don’t hold back, though I would equally say that Kalika Magic could enter Young Adult territory, or appeal to the adult appreciator of fantasy fiction. Would love to hear your views; please feel free to leave a comment. 

For more information on blog tours at Books On Tour please visit www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour.

Kalika Magic Books On Tour Dates: Mon November 27 - Fri December 1


Wed November 29