Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Sword of Darrow

The Sword of Darrow
By:  Alex & Hal Malchow
ISBN:  9781935618478
Published April 5, 2011 by BenBella Books
Available format:  Hardcover, Paperback, ebook

In a magical realm full of incredible creatures of every possible shape and size, war is brought upon the tranquil kingdom of Sonnencrest by the malicious and greedy goblin King Malmut. Princess Babette, the only remaining member of the royal family, manages to escape.  She soon finds safety with Asterux, a powerful wizard who teaches Babette magic and disguises her as an ugly gypsy girl to protect her from King Malmut’s henchmen.

Ten years later, Babette uses her magic to aid Darrow, the kingdom’s only hope in defeating the goblins and ending their horrible reign.  Darrow, a scrawny boy who can scarcely pick up a sword, bears a great gift for inspiring others. With Babette’s behind-the-scenes support, Darrow begins a journey to free his country once and for all and bring much-needed peace back to Sonnencrest.

Written by a father and his eight-year-old son who struggled with a learning disability at the time,
The Sword of Darrow is a charming quest that shows how even the most unexpected heroes can rise up against injustice.

My son received an advanced copy of this book for review from the publisher.  As a part of this early reader group, he also received a signed copy of the published version which lists his name in the back with all the other reviewers.  This was a great honor for both of us!

When we first began reading the book, it was extremely slow-going because it was a bit above his reading level (he was five and in Kindergarten).  I had to hurry and read through the book myself to help him be able to review it on time.  I told him about the story, and we talked about some things that we liked and didn’t like. 

Overall, there really wasn’t much to complain about.  The main thing for us was that we wanted more visual stimulation.  Clayton was still very much into picture books, so as we read along, he was interested in what the characters looked like.  It was even hard for me to imagine some things because the characters were all so different and unique!  We mentioned in our review that we would love to see lots of illustrations in the published version.  In a personal email from Alex to Clayton, we were assured that there would be pictures to help us visualize the characters and events, and, having received our signed copy last week, they certainly fulfilled their promise!  The illustrator, JP Targete, is amazing!

The story is extremely well written, flowing perfectly and always holding the reader’s attention.  With so many amazing and creative characters, The Sword of Darrow aspires toward the ranks of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.  It was refreshing to be able to relate Clayton’s attention deficit to Babette’s learning differences and Darrow’s physical challenges.  Each of them was able to overcome their struggles and accomplish amazing things—they literally were able to change their world.  Anyone who has a child with any kind of difficulty knows how painful it is to see them disheartened and how very important it is to encourage and lift them up in any way we can.  The Sword of Darrow is a wonderful way to convey the message that no matter what challenges we face, we all have the strength to rise above and make a difference in our world.  

Clayton and I are rereading the book together and enjoying it very much so far!  I am considering purchasing one of the special edition hardcovers for him.  He has a hard time following along; I often catch him skipping words or lines.  I think he might really benefit from the special format designed for those with learning differences such as dislexia.

If the book itself is not inspirational enough, the story of how the book came about certainly is.  To learn more about this amazing father-son creation, PLEASE be sure to drop by tomorrow, June 3rd, for a Q&A with Hal and Alex!!

You can learn more about the book here:

You can purchase any of the three formats here:  Amazon

All authors' proceeds plus one half of the publisher's profits will be donated to learning disabilities charities.