Five out of five stars!
“Of all the places to grow up, Kip Carringer spent his youth in the secluded little town of Arno. Strange things were common there but no one seemed to notice, except for Kip that is. There was a witch living in the woods and all year long it was Autumn. And as if that’s not strange enough, all the birds around the town and through the woods mooed like cows, instead of chirping or squawking like birds are supposed to do.
Kip was determined to uncover the secrets of the town, all while trying to convince his best friend Marleigh that he wasn’t crazy. However, unknown to Kip, adventure was waiting for him just around the corner. Adventure that would be filled with pie stealing creatures and a dark, dark looming shadow.”
The town of Arno is frozen in perpetual autumn. Where the leaves never fall and the birds chirp “moo,” strange and terrifying things will soon be happening. The first book of The Fantastical Stories Told Beneath the Willow Tree series, Autumn Eternal struck me as an interesting book even at first glance. The cover features a vibrantly coloured and beautifully drawn freeze-frame of the main characters Kip and Marleigh exploring the forests around their hometown.
An orphan adopted by his loving aunt and uncle, Kip lives a happy life but for the bullies that make him dread going to school. After following rising smoke from deep in the forest, Kip and Marleigh find a magical book that brings to life whatever it finds written in its pages. However, a dark force seeks to take the book for itself and wreak havoc not just on Arno, but the world.
This is the first middle grade book I’ve read (so far!), but it is easy enough for adults to enjoy this book. Autumn Eternal is an engaging page-turner with some truly loveable and quirky characters taking the helm. Author Kyle Bagsby does a great job of conveying the town of Arno, which really enveloped me and pulled me into the world of Arno the way the best books do.
The sensations of reading Autumn Eternal can only be described as “warm magic.” The kind that kept me engaged, comfortable and adequately terrified when the climax arose. The world of Arno is exceptional and the many original elements (besides the mooing birds) make this book a fantastic read.
Halfway through reading this book, it occurred to me that Autumn Eternal would make a spectacular Studio Ghibli movie. There’s not a Studio Ghibli movie I wouldn’t watch, but this one would be a winner.
A minor criticism for Autumn Eternal is the slow pacing at the beginning. Arno is well and thoroughly described, and the characters intimately introduced, yet these were drawn out a little too long before the main plot emerged.
Autumn Eternal is a thoroughly entertaining read for middle graders and adults alike, but this is a book straight from the dreams of fantasy, magic and supernatural fans!
Find Autumn Eternal on Amazon!