REVIEW: Aster Wood and the Book of Leveling – JB Cantwell * * * * *

Aster Woods and the Book of Levelling

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Book Description from Amazon

After failing to locate the celebrated sorcerer Almara, Aster Wood has done the next best thing; he has found, and rescued, Almara’s daughter, Jade. Now, the two are traveling through the Maylin Fold together, still searching for the lost wizard. He is the one man who can answer their questions about why the planets within the Fold are dying, what it means for Earth, and how the evil can be stopped.

But when they finally do find Almara, he’s in no state to be of any help to anyone. They must push on with him in tow and hope to find the little known Book of Leveling, an ancient tome said to hold the key to balancing the planets in the Fold. Little by little, tiny fragments of information leak from Almara’s fractured mind, and they draw closer and closer to their goal. Aster hopes that the discovery of the book will lead to not just the healing of worlds, but the healing of the people who inhabit them. Including the one person Aster has barely dared think of for the past eight years, his long-mad father.

But a new enemy is waiting for them, watching every step that they take. The Corentin, a force of evil so great that few dare to pass along their knowledge of him, is examining their every move, playing with them like puppets on strings.

And Jade. Aster thought he had saved her for good, that the release from her mountain prison would be enough to bring her back from the misery she had experienced for so many years. But her happiness is fading, and in her eyes Aster sees flashes of a malice so deep that it chills him to his core.

Aster must make it to the book and wrench it from the clutches of the Corentin before it’s too late. Before his friend, and her old, mad father, are lost to his strange hold over them. And before he, himself, falls to the dark bed of madness the Corentin has waiting.

The Book of Leveling is the second book of five in the teen fantasy series Aster Wood, perfect for lovers of middle grade science fiction. These teen adventure books are a wild ride through the cosmos!



My daughter and I couldn’t wait to dig into Book 2 of this series, especially since we both loved Book 1. Aster Wood and the Book of Leveling did not disappoint. I found it to be somewhat darker than the first, with a deeper development of characters and a continued theme of urgency weaving its way through.

In the first book we were introduced to Jade, a complex and likeable girl who alternate between being small and lost and powerful and in control.  When the two of them finally find Almara the reader breathes a sigh of relief, but we were sucked into a false sense of security. Almara is not himself.

What I liked about the book

As with the first in the series, I loved this book. Cantwell’s writing style is easy and full of description. She has the ability to take complex scenes and describe them in terms the reader can follow and ‘live’ the events. I grew to like Aster more and more in this one as well. He is developing into a young man who learns and grows through the hair raising experiences he encounters.

The Corentin continued to lurk in the background, always present, eerily invading minds and spying on Aster, Jade and Almara’s progress. I like the tid-bits thrown the reader in relation to Aster’s powers. I can’t wait for these to come to fruition and for him to finally be what he was born to be.

Throughout this book Jade, time and time again revealed something disturbing growing inside. At times I wondered if she was actually on Aster’s side. In the end, all was revealed.

What I didn’t enjoy that much

I am happy to say there was nothing in particular that niggled me about this book.

Final thoughts

The Aster Wood series is one of those I can see myself reading again. There are so many layers of good and evil, and so many things happening to our hero—one read could never be sufficient to truly comprehend it all. It has the makings of a brilliant middle grade series. We have already bought the Third book and I cannot wait to continue the adventure.



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