Arty and the Forest of the Forsaken
by Nicholas Jauregui

"Arty stood in awe, his mind drifting into the clouds. He could almost see himself out there with them, practicing together. His heart raced with excitement seeing true knights for the first time in his life."

In this adventurous middle-grade fantasy, Arty has always dreamed of becoming a knight for his kingdom. When Arty's father, Harper, is offered a job to work for a blacksmith in Camelot, they take a weeklong journey to the kingdom to start their new life, bringing Arty one step closer to his dreams. However, as someone who isn't of noble birth, a lot of obstacles stand in his way. Still, Arty is filled with energy and ambition and refuses to give up no matter how many times he's looked down upon for being from the lower class. He and his new friends decide to train themselves on their own without the guidance of any knights and are eventually put to the test when a wizard who wishes to rule over Camelot puts all of their families in danger.

Though the plot is simple, it is still engaging for its target audience. Jauregui's crisp writing and worldbuilding make navigating the book a breeze. Most of the worldbuilding is focused on interesting aspects of magic while simultaneously referring to well-known mythical figures, such as Merlin and King Uther Pendragon. Though some of the side characters blur together, Arty is a fun character to follow because of his headstrong determination. His ability to never give up no matter what obstacles stand in his way—even if they are societal expectations—is on full display as he tackles themes of social class, reaching for the stars, respect for one another regardless of background, and more. Overall this fantasy is the perfect read for any upper-elementary or middle school child who loves adventure and stories of legend.

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