Book Reviews

Book Review: The Inkwell Chronicles

by J. D. Peabody

publisher’s synopsis

Immerse yourself in this fast-paced middle-grade fantasy about magic ink, a secret society, and a boy who yearns to make his mark.

When their father goes missing after a mysterious train crash, Everett and his little sister Bea find a curious pen in his belongings, and its magical Ink begins to rewrite their once-ordinary lives. The Ink leads them to a world they never knew existed—one teeming with impossible magic, formidable allies, and villains who are determined to destroy everything they hold dear.

Together, Everett and Bea embark on an adventure through secret tunnels in England and Scotland to find and protect the last Inkwell, and ultimately to save their father. But in order to do so, Everett must find a way to tap into the most magical power of all: his courage. Evoking A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, this classic battle of good and evil pits creativity against the forces that would seek to blot it out for good. 

The Inkwell Chronicles is a tale of magical ink, creativity, and a pair of siblings searching for their father.

The characters were nice, but they seemed a little simple. Everett’s character arc of courage and worth is a common one, though one that I don’t think is overused. However, I would have liked to connect more with Everett so that his arc resonated more. Everett’s moods also seemed to swing a little too fast at times. My favorite character was probably the Conductor–he was most interesting in my opinion.

The plot was fun. I always enjoy stories that play off of how the great writers became to be great, and it was fun to see Peabody’s take on the Ink and the great artistic masters.

I think that Peabody could have leaned a little bit more into the time period. Honestly, I actually forgot what time period it was set in at one point. Aside from the presence of the Inklings, and the prevalence of train travel, it could have been set in almost any time period. So it would have been nice to see a few more period details sprinkled throughout to ground the story more.

The writing felt a little… too basic. The prose was simple–there wasn’t anything that made it sparkle, and it seemed to lean into telling at times. However, that’s all something that an MG-age reader probably won’t notice. Those like me though, older readers who still enjoy the whimsy of MG, might be a little disappointed in the complexity of the writing.

The Inkwell Chronicles will probably be loved by younger MG readers, though older fans of MG might be left wishing for a little bit more.

*The Inkwell Chronicles releases September 13, 2022. I received an ARC though NetGalley. All thoughts are entirely my own.* 

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