Kingdom of Scaba
by M.K. Alsulaimani
Trafford Publishing

"The kids screamed in pain, but he didn't stop beating them until their feet started to bleed."

When you were a kid, did you ever do something that you immediately regretted and wished you could just disappear? For some kids, it comes true, much to their chagrin. The inhabitants of a kingdom called Scaba, located below the Earth, are kidnapping desperate children right under their parents' noses. They do this by luring the children to a party where they'll feel welcomed and can seemingly escape the consequences of their actions. They are then whisked away to Scaba to serve as slaves without any hope of escape. It's not that escape is physically impossible, but the price is to lose one's sanity, or so a recent group of kidnapped children have been told. These children aren't ready to become docile; however, even if it truly means losing their mind.

The author creates a vivid, eye-popping world where the inhabitants and culture of Scaba come alive for the reader. There's even a detailed mythos that defines the motives of key characters. While the story entrances the reader with its astounding setting and intriguing mysteries, the characters are left wanting. While many of their backgrounds are detailed, but there is very little growth in the characters themselves. For example, why do all of the children resist at once? Why do not some succumb to the overbearing finality of their situation and then rise above it later, stronger and wiser? Additionally, at a couple points in the novel, the children's feet are beaten until bloody, their screams and cries protesting the torture until they pass out. They don't seem mentally or psychologically altered from it, and therefore it seemed placed in the story merely for shock value. Despite weak characterization, the story itself is engaging and action-packed, appealing to a younger audience that enjoys fantastical settings.

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