Phoebe and I have read all of The Familiars series together–even though she is almost fourteen, we both still enjoy reading a book together. I figured she would outgrow the desire to have her mom read to her, but not yet!
At the moment, there are four books in the series: The Familiars, Secrets of the Crown, Circle of Heroes, and Palace of Dreams–all authored by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. They are more middle grade than young adult. The are a good alternative or companion to the Harry Potter novels.
The main characters are the animal companions to magic workers, not the human wizards. The books focus on three: Aldwyn the cat, Skylar the blue jay, and Gilbert the tree frog. They go on many adventures with and without their human “loyals”: Jack, Dalton, and Marianne, respectively. Jack and Marianne are also siblings. It is set in a fictional world that has its own rules and geography.
The adventures Aldwyn, Skylar, and Gilbert go on are fun, and there is a lot about friendship building, family in the broadest sense of the word, and learning to use their magic powers. There are definite funny bits, particularly with Gilbert, who always seems to find himself in a scrape. There is mild danger and suspense, but nothing that should cause too much stress for younger readers.
I recommend it as a good family read since it can appeal to a broad range of tastes. Now for Phoebe’s review! Minor spoilers ahead.
The Familiars, by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, is a great series. It incorporated my favorite things that I look for when I am reading a book: magic, animals, and mystery. The Familiars is about three animals, a bird named Skylar, a cat named Aldywn, and a frog named Gilbert. They are the familiars of three students at a magical school called Turnbuckle Academy. They go on quests together, saving the world that they live in.
It is hard to choose a favorite character. I love all three of them for different reasons. If I had to choose one, I would probably choose Skylar. She was the brains of the trio, and she was often saving their lives when they got into a sticky situation.
I was often able to relate this series with the Harry Potter series. You have a Aldwyn, who is the main character, and is more or less the center of the story. He comes from a life as a street cat, with no family. You have Skylar who is the girl in the trio, and the one with all of the smarts. If there is a life or death situation for the trio, she is the one who usually figures out how to save them. And then, you have Gilbert. He is the humorous one, and the one that often is a little clueless. Although he helps in his own ways, he sometimes makes the situation worse.
I also liked how each of the familiars had a magical power. Aldwyn is telekinetic, Skylar can create illusions, and Gilbert can see the future through puddle viewings. This gave them all something unique that only they could do. I would recommend this book to more of a younger audience. I read the last book last month, but I read the other three books several years ago, which is when I enjoyed them the most.