DiscoverComing of Age

Return to Isle of the Shallows

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Worth reading 😎

A portal fantasy adventure with a timely message and good intentions, but...

“There is a reason for everything.”


I never had any doubt that there is something truly beautiful at the core of Return to Isle of the Shallows. An important and timely lesson to be learned and some growing up to be done for Drew Barrett, its supposed central character, in the midst of all the promised adventure.


Indeed, there was an adventure as there were lessons to be learned. The settings in both Drew’s world and the one on the other side of the portal were also beautifully described, so much so that I could almost touch and taste them… sometimes.


I liked the intention behind the book, too. Drew did learn what he needed to learn and I really admired the way he took that learning back to Longwood Academy and responded to a bully with kindness. It was right at that moment that the story really drove its message home for me. That scene in itself was perfect. So I really wondered why the adults had to talk too much getting there.


And there was too much talking in this book. Too much of Drew’s parents, Maria and Frank, analyzing everything and everyone. Too much dialogue spoken for the reader’s sake. Too much recounting of events that would’ve worked a lot better if it had actually been shown instead. Too many words, too little action.


On the same vein, there was also too much backstory piled up in the earlier pages, rendering the characters catatonic in order to deliver them. It made for a lot of unnaturally long, meandering scenes that got confusing, moving back and forth between present and past and past and present and even further back into a much earlier past. And it’s really frustrating for a story to lose its forward momentum this way and this early, because then it loses its chance to engage its readers.


And as much as the descriptions were written very vividly, sometimes they have a way of branching out into pathways and sceneries that were not even important. There were too many explanations of things that didn’t play a significant role in the story (like the Arvak youths' "science project"), and I really wish they did, because then it would've made for a more exciting adventure.


Moreover, I failed to see why Maria and Frank had to be in on all of this, because they were seriously stealing too much of the spotlight away from the kids. So much so that the supposedly central character Drew was only given that one moment to stand up against the villain and it almost felt like an afterthought.


Such a lovely premise and such great potentials that got so bogged down by the story’s need to tell its readers too much, drill its messages too deep, and give its adults too much unnecessary screen time.


I personally almost gave up on this book a couple of times, which would’ve been such a waste because, all things considered, it did conclude in a satisfying way – salvaged by that one lovely scene of kindness triumphing over the bully. ♥


Reviewed by

I am a casual reader, always on the lookout for new books to read. I try to find the good in every story and will rave about what has touched me deeply as a reader and a writer. If something did not work for me, I can be very honest in saying so and explain 'why' to the very best of my ability.

Chapter 4 A Splash

About the author

I am a Bahamian-born author of four children's books and one book of fiction, Return to Isle of the Shallows, a middle grade/coming-of-age/YA fantasy adventure. I have two adult children and live in Florida with my husband, Gregg. I graduated from Rider University in NJ. view profile

Published on August 14, 2019

Published by

90000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Coming of Age

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