Thirteen year old Darcy Pennington doesn’t have any friends. Her real love in life is horses. For the past several years she has gone to a summer camp dedicated to riding horses. But this year, both because of financial constraints and to be together as a family, her family has decided to go on vacation together, to a family camp. Darcy is dreading it. She is dreading it in part because two other kids from her neighborhood that she knows, but does not really like will be there as well.
Darcy begins to like the camp despite herself. The area is beautiful and the kids are fairly friendly, although as an introvert, Darcy does have a problem finding space to just be alone. As she gets acquainted with the space and the people, there is a sense of magic, and not just in the figurative sense.
I do not want to give away too many details of the story, but this is a young adult fantasy that has some parallels to CS Lewis’ Narnia books. Eventually another world is involved, and a prophesy, and gifts and talents, and an evil ruler. Genre writing is difficult, good genre book follow enough conventions to be part of the genre without being reduced to conventions. Good books often drop subtle hints and references to earlier books that helped to define or illustrate those conventions. Bad genre books blindly follow the conventions without adding anything new to the conversations within the genre. One of the things that some people love about genre writing is the ability to ‘check out’ as you are reading because the book become so conventional that no real thought is required.
The Six is aware of the young adult fantasy conventions and definitely pays tribute to Lewis and Tolkien and other masters without being mindless or boring. Characters make mistakes and have limited perceptions of where those mistakes are going to lead. There is real character development, although this is the first of a series so there is plenty of room for more character and story development.
The Six was a quick read for me. I read it in basically two sittings in two days. I was engaged and entertained and frustrated with bad decisions as I was supposed to be. And I enjoyed the result and I am anticipating picking up the rest of the series.
I am in a private Facebook group with the author, pen named KB Hoyle. Although I do not know her personally, I picked up the book because I know her from the group. I share my kindle account with some friends and some of those friends have target age kids. So I was somewhat surprised that when I first joined the group a couple years ago (this group is roughly half writers, lots of the group have written books) that I already owned all of Hoyle’s books on kindle. Hoyle has released eight books, six in this series and two in another series. Her publisher recently went though financial issues and so all of her books have released back to her and she is re-editing and re-releasing them. I asked her if I should wait for the new editions or just go ahead and read the old. She said that there were minor story changes, but the biggest story change was in the second book. So I am going to wait a couple weeks until the second book is re-released and read the new editions of the whole series as they come out.
The main characters are about 13 years old. I would say that depending on reading level and interest, these books are oriented toward the 10 to 15 year old. The Six is on Kindle Unlimited if you use that. It is also lendable if you want to borrow the kindle edition from me. But it is also only $2.99 right now to purchase on Kindle.