Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Magora: The Golden Maple Tree by Marc Remus – Book Review

"Painting and writing are both products of creativity. Even though the two seem different, they are more similar than we think."

Book: Magora: The Golden Maple Tree
(Book 2 in The Magora Series)
Author: Marc Remus
Genres: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Art

Magora: The Golden Maple Tree is the second instalment in the middle grade-to-young adult Magora series by artist, painter and author Marc Remus. It can be easily read as a standalone, but reading this instalment has prompted me to immediately pick up the first book Magora: The Gallery of Wonders.

If you're a fan of the Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia books OR movies, then you'll love the Magora series, which has its own flavour. There are a few characters that you can relate to from other books, like Rufus who is a very Hermione Granger kind-of character, but Magora and its main protagonist Holly have their own character.

Every chapter begins with a short note from the author about creating, art, writing, or something on this line. The book opens with:
"When you paint, you create. When you write, you create. When you imagine, you create. We create every day, even when we fear we can't create anything anymore."

Magora: The Golden Maple Tree opens with a backdrop of what happened the previous year or book: "A year ago, Holly had jumped into a fantasy painting that had been created by her grandfather, Nikolas."

The reader also learns about Cuspidor, who has evil fire-breathing seahorses as his minions, and who has been tracking Holly and trying to get her blood.

The central character of the series is Holly O'Flannigan who is joined by her three friends Rufus, Brian and Amanda. The four are transported to the world of Magora through a painting, where they learn that everything is related to art and drawing. They attend Cliffony Academy, where their tools are paintbrushes, a little reminiscent of magical wands.

As soon as Magora: The Golden Maple Tree begins, Holly and the reader learn that Holly's friend Ileana, a previously "Unfinished" painting who had been "finished" the previous year through blood donations, has resumed her "Unfinished" form and is dying. Quickly, Holly races to gather her three friends and join Professor LePawnee to re-enter Magora.

"Holly felt as if an invisible hand was penetrating her chest, grabbing her heart, and slowly squeezing it like an orange."

Holly admits to her friends that she feels responsible for what her grandfather has done, leaving several "Unfinished" pieces, resulting in a lot of evil taking place in Magora. Still, the reader is not told how Cuspidor came to power and why he seeks to destroy Magora. For a twelve-year-old, Holly carries a lot of weight on her shoulders, making her a fairly grown-up character for her age.

Throughout the book, Holly searches for a way to save her friend. In the meantime, Magora is being attacked by a species called Chandrills. The group of friends learns of a golden maple tree that can both save their world from the pesky beasts and their friend from imminent dissolution.

The book is full of humourous interactions between the characters, while Holly struggles with a possible crush.

"I might get too attached to people here. Because reality is reality and a painting is still a painting. Magora is a fantasy; it will never be real. And I don't think it's a good idea to start believing it could ever be."

We are also told that Holly is a "Gindar", a rare form of artist that can create living beings through painting. However, since the first book, Holly has had her doubts about being a "Gindar" which in turn has put her in the limelight, making people raise the bar of their expectations from her.

The language used is easy and the novel is quick-paced and exciting. Each character has their quirks, but Holly is the star. She has her flaws, misconceptions and is a well-crafted protagonist.

The descriptions of the various games, tasks and adventures is detailed and enjoyable. I couldn't put the book down.

I also liked the theme of friendship prevalent in the novel and how friends stick with each other despite their differences.

As a painter, Marc Remus builds significantly on his career and knowledge, crafting an artistic series. A must-read for all ages.

"Magic only lasts as long as a fantasy world doesn't become everyday life. When routine takes over, the magic pops like a balloon in a fire."

Overall rating: 5 stars

Update: Check out Nadaness In Motion's book review of Magora: The Gallery of Wonders (book 1), Magora: The Bridge in the Fog (Book 3), Magora: The Uprising (Book 4)

Purchase link for Magora: The Golden Maple Tree via Amazon.

About the Author:
Marc Remus has been a full-time painter for 20 years, which has prompted him to come up with Magora.
"I always wondered what it would be like to fall into one of my paintings," he says. "I have also painted the covers for all the Magora books, designed the logo, and did the interior layout."
You can check out his artwork at his websiteYou can also connect with Marc via Facebook, Twitter and check out his TV documentary.

Author Update: Magora: The Gallery of Wonders (Book 1) is currently under translation to both German and Spanish.

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