Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bookanista Review: The Brimstone Key, by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis

I'm sure it's not a big shocker--given that it's Grey Griffins week--that today's Bookanista review is on THE BRIMSTONE KEY, the first book in a new Grey Griffins Trilogy called THE CLOCKWORK CHRONICLES.

But I'm not just reviewing the book because it makes sense. Remember, we Bookanistas only review the books we LOVE. And THE BRIMSTONE KEY definitely falls into that category. 

First of all--look at this amazing cover:

I mean, can you GET any cooler than that? I think not...

Plus, I think you all know by now that I'm forever on the quest for fabulous middle grade--there just doesn't seem to be enough of it sometimes, at least compared to YA--and I can tell you right now, the Grey Griffins are definitely fabulous.

Here's the official blurb from the publisher:

A brand new adventure starring The Grey Griffins!
Max---the leader. Natalia---the brains. Ernie---the changeling. Harley---the muscle.

A year ago, the Grey Griffins were just regular kids from Avalon, Minnesota. That was before they learned about the existence of evil fairies, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night. Now they are monster-hunters, celebrated heroes, and allies to the legendary Templar knights---but even heroes have to go to school.

When the Griffins enroll at Iron Bridge Academy, a school to train young recruits in the fight against the forces of evil, they find themselves at the center of a whole new adventure. The Clockwork King, a Templar foe from days past, has returned to finish the plan he set in motion decades ago. A plot to steal the souls of changelings---humans infused with fairy blood and supernatural abilities---in order to power his army of clockwork war machines.

In The Brimstone Key, authors Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis deftly blend the mystical wonder of steampunk with magic and adventure to create an action-packed thrill ride.

Yes, you're reading that right. This book blends fantasy and steampunkYeah...that's like the definition of awesomesauce. (If, yanno, awesomesauce were an actual word.) 

I'd been waiting impatiently for the next book in the series anyway. But when I found out they were infusing steampunk this time I was almost ready to camp outside Little Brown until they gave me a copy--which probably wouldn't have been the best career move. So I was very lucky that Jon Lewis scored me an ARC. And now it's available for everyone to buy--and I highly recommend you do so (if you don't win one of the signed copies I'm giving away here, that is)

Now, I know you're probably noticing the word 'series' in there, and thinking you have to read the other three in order to appreciate this one. But I can assure you, you don't. They are awesome books, and I definitely think everyone should read them at some point--but you don't need to read them in order. THE BRIMSTONE KEY is the beginning of a new trilogy, so it's very much its own entity. Anything that needed to be explained from the previous series is, and in a way that doesn't feel exhausting to those of us who have read the books (I'm still amazed at how they pulled that off). 

So you get all the things that are great about the first books: unique characters, a cool fantasy mythology woven around Arthurian Legend, humor, magic--PLUS a new villain with all his evil steampunk plans. Win and WIN. 

Even if you're not into reading middle grade, you should give it a chance. You won't regret it. And if nothing else, buy it for your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews because they will eat. it. up. I know I did. I can't WAIT for the next one.

I am giving away a signed ARC and 2 signed copies. Find all the contest details here. And here's what my fellow Bookanistas are up to this week. 


  1. I love a good middle grade recommendation. I haven't heard of this one, so I appreciate it. The cover is amazing and the premise sounds super intriguing. Thanks, Shannon!


  2. Oooh, new book to add to my wish list! Thanks for the great review.

  3. I'm so glad you turned me onto this series. I so agree with you that there isn't enough attention to middle grade books. It's on my list to read soon. I'll start with the first book. Glad I'll have more to read.

  4. Sounds perfect for my middle school students YAY! thank you for this

  5. Ohhh, now that's cool!! You don't see much steampunk in MG. Actually, I've never seen it before. Granted, I'm probably not as well read in MG as you, but still, how refreshing! Great review! Sounds like a fun read.

  6. Hi Shannon-
    This book looks good and the cover really draws you in. Thanks for the recommendation.

  7. Minnesota, steampunk and MG? Awesome. Thanks Shannon!

  8. Great review. Seriously great. You're killing me this week, girl! :-)

  9. I don't read MG and my kid is too old...but, it makes me happy to see quality MG books come out. Anything that inspires children to learn the love of reading makes me uber HAPPY. :)

    Have a wonderful holiday weekend, Shannon.

  10. I have to add this book to my list. I love your excitement about this author! Great review, it sounds amazing!

  11. OOOH! Steampunk and middle grade too! That is awesomesauce!

  12. It's official. I'm reading this book next. :)

  13. I really have to pick this one up! :)

  14. Shannon, you do the best reviews. Now I HAVE to read this book!

  15. I'm hoping that someone will nominate this for the Cybils Awards (by the time nominations close at midnight tonight, EST); I'm a panelist for the Cybils, and I really want to read this one!


Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Any arguing or intense debate--on any subject will be removed. Let's keep this a safe, fun space.