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Image by Peter Steiner 🇨🇭 1973

Diane Donovan Book Review!

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

Published in the Midwest Book Review Magazine, December 2021 Issue!

Hale: The Rise of the Griffins is the perfect fantasy of choice for readers with short attention spans. Why? It's not because J.K. Noble chooses a diminutive format, but because the adventure is presented as four interconnected short works, each excellent adventures packed with both metaphor and action.

Noble is particularly adept at placing readers in the center of Hale's magical experiences: "At that moment, Hale notices a cool wave of air slowly floating down from above. It feels as though tiny particles of dust are pouring over his head. And yet, he sees there is nothing there at all. His feet feel an odd magnetic pull, connecting him to the earth. But once this wave rushes over him, his body lifts off the ground completely. A celestial and invigorating feeling courses through him. Under this inexplicable light, he feels a connection with the universe, and he can see everything—as if everything unexplainable suddenly makes perfect sense."

The structure and fine descriptions aren't all that set Hale apart from most fantasies for young adults. Equally notable is an attention to destiny, dysfunctional family relationships, the epic struggle of good and bad choices conducted on the field of personal realizations, and characters who struggle with their Griffin identities, immortality, and other choices.

Noble also injects different dialogues into the piece. This may stymie some readers, but succeeds in a degree of authenticity that bows to character diversity: "Garet curses. The stranger turns. But Garet is too drunk to care and leaves, rambling, “What does a person ’ave to do fahr a ’alf-decent dose o’ potion so dey won’t ’ave to see death ’anging around?” He storms back toward Kala’s apartment, zigzagging along the sidewalk. “All the souls she’s collected, danks to me. All of ’em, and I’m still seeing dese wretched things!” He continues, “And where the ’ell is dat green man? Whatever da ’ell ’is name was!”

As Hale moves between Griffin and human forms, an invitation for him to enter a place where "Hale and I will be the family we once were" threatens his life.

Mature themes of manipulation, choices and consequences, and loss and redemption are woven into the action, providing satisfying food for thought while supporting an overall fantasy adventure that is vividly portrayed.

Readers seeking more than a formula fantasy story who look for stories of transformation, courage, conflict, and survival will find all these elements and more in Hale: The Rise of the Griffins. It's a story which will appeal to all YA fantasy fans, especially those who will find these interconnected adventures thoroughly engrossing.


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