The Lost Years of Merlin by T. A. Barron
When we bought this, I really had no idea what it would be like, but my daughter had a minor Merlin obsession at the time, so we picked it up. I was pleasantly surprised.
The story starts off with a boy, Emrys, washed up on shore with no memory of who he is or where he came from. The woman who is with him, Branwen, claims to be his mother, but never tells him anything personal or anything about their past, so Emrys is suspicious of her claim. As he gets older, he develops unusual powers. The turning point in the book is when, in defense of Branwen, he uses those powers to kindle a fire, almost killing another person and blinding himself. As he is healing, he learns to use his “second sight” instead of his eyes.
At the age of twelve, Emrys sets off alone to find the truth about who he is and where he belongs. He travels across the sea to the land of Fincayra, a land between this world and the Otherworld. There he meets a young girl and a tiny giant. Together they embark on dangerous quest to rescue the island from the destructive blight caused by a pact between its king and an evil power.
After the first couple of chapters, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a epic fantasy full of adventure and ordeals. The trio meet all sorts of unusual creatures and people, both good and evil and those who are neither. They face a task few believe they can accomplish, but still they stand by each other. Amber, 9, enjoyed the story a lot, too. She gripped my wrist at some of the exciting parts and always wanted “more” when we were done reading for the evening. This is the first in a series, and of course she thinks we should go out and get the next immediately. I love books like this, that both she and I can enjoy.
According to Amazon, the age range for this book is grades 5-8. Amber’s in 4th, though, and I think it was totally appropriate for her.