Title: Four Fiends (Countdown to Dammerung, Book 1)
Author: Nikki Bennett
Year published: 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Number of pages: 214
Recommended age: 8+
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
1. What is the story about? This book is about four kids who have to defeat four fiends who have kidnapped the four guardians of the world. They use the magic objects given to them by the Golden Dragon to defeat them.
2. What do you think of the cover and the pictures in the book? The cover was interesting and as for the pictures right before the chapters, some were ok but some were a little weird.
3. Who are the main characters? The main characters are a boy named Pietro from Italy; another boy named Saboru from Japan; Kate, a girl from America; and Jinjing, a girl from Hong Kong.
4. Which of the characters are you most like and why? My favorite character is Kate because she’s interesting and because she was too scared to do her task. I could understand her the best.
5. What were the four myths? Which did you like best and why? The first myth was with the giant monster named Nian. The second myth was about the Jersey Devil. The third myth was about Pele and the volcano. The fourth myth was about Greek gods and goddesses and Pandora’s jar. I liked the one with Pandora’s jar best because I like the Greek mythology. I’m reading a series about the Gods and Goddesses right now [The Goddess Girls by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams].
6. What were the four lessons learned from each of the four stories? The first lesson was to always be honest. The second lesson was about chaos and not being afraid of problems or confrontations. The third lesson was about learning to ignore something when it’s not good for you. The fourth lesson was about not being afraid of the unknown.
7. Was there anything you didn’t like about the book? I didn’t like that it didn’t mention what Dammerung was [in reference to the title, Countdown to Dammerung, Book 1]. What is the countdown about?
8. Overall, how did you like the book? I really, really, really liked this book. I want to read the next one too!
9. Who do you think would like this book? I would recommend this book to kids 7 and up, boys and girls.
Daughter Rating: ★★★★★
What’s it About? Meet the four heroes of the tale: Jinjing is the quiet, shy girl from Hong Kong; Pietro is the boy From Italy who makes up stories no one no longer believes; Kate, from New Jersey, is vain and full of self-confidence; and finally, Saburo is the boy from Japan who can’t keep up with his friends because his legs and hips had been broken in a car accident years before. These four are summoned by the Golden Dragon to rescue the Four Guardians of the world (the Tiger, the Bird, the Dragon, and the Tortoise) who are being held captive by the Four Fiends (Gluttony, Chaos, Ignorance, and Deviousness).
Armed only with mundane everyday items endowed with magical power and their wits, courage, and friendship, the four heroes must do battle with the Fiends and rescue the Guardians before Earth erupts in chaos.
My Thoughts: Wow! Can I just say wow?! I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. Nikki Bennett has written a middle grade tale filled with magic and mythology from diverse cultures; interesting and engaging characters who tweens can relate to and empathise with; and an interesting and engaging plot that will keep you glued to the pages until the very end. In short, I LOVED it!
It is clear that Nikki Bennett has devoted much thought to character development in the Four Fiends. There is much diversity in the four characters with regards to gender, culture, personality, strengths, and weaknesses. I think any child reading this book could recognize themselves in at least one of the main characters and likely more than one. Bennett does a great job of providing us insights into each of the characters (as flawed, vulnerable, and uniquely strong) and devotes time in describing how each of them grows and develops as a result of their experiences in their quest. I thought that the character development was excellent.
I loved reading how the mythology from diverse cultures was woven into the story. The book begins with a preface setting up the quest. We are introduced to Chinese mythology with the description of how the Vermillion Bird, Azure Dragon, White Tiger, and Black Tortoise, under the watchful eye and wisdom of the Golden Dragon, each protecting the four corners of the world (south, east, west, and north). Following this, and without giving too much away, Bennett, incorporates Greek, Polynesian/Hawaiian, and even American mythology. I think I’ve been clear in the past about how I feel about myths and folkology. Love it!
I think what I appreciated the most in the book though (aside from my very public love affair with all things mythological) is the messages and themes underlying the book. This book’s target audience is tweens and as we know, this demographic falls somewhere between the innocence of childhood and the emerging independence of adolescence. It is a time when many boys and girls may suffer from a lack of confidence or self-esteem as they bumble their way toward becoming more and more independent. The characters in the book come to terms with their own short-comings as they are faced with the challenge of overcoming these. For example, Jinjing is a shy, awkward girl who lacks self-confidence and yet, she emerges as the leader of the foursome. These characters are excellent role models for tweens.
I don’t normally comment on book covers, but in this case, I will. I don’t think the cover of the book does the content justice. The cover is rather drab and uninteresting. This is in stark contrast to the amazing story contained inside. I strongly suggest that the author consider a new cover because I would pass this fantastic book over if I saw it on the shelf in a bookstore or at the library. There are some pencil drawings inside the book and I thought those were great, especially using the images of the four guardians as dividers in the appropriate chapters.
My bottom line: Four Fiends is a fantastic story, steeped in mythology, strong on character development, and with an intriguing and interesting plot. I could not put this book down because it was THAT good! I can’t wait for Book 2 to come out.
Who Would Like This Book? I think any tween (boy or girl aged 8+) who loves reading books with elements of fantasy, magic, and mythology would love this book.
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★★
*** This book was provided to us free-of-charge by the author exchange for an honest review.***
About The Author:
Born and raised in Virginia, US, Nikki Bennett has spent the last few years living in Japan with her artist husband Steve. Together, they’ve traveled through much of Asia, exploring ancient places and studying different cultures’ myths and legends. Nikki began writing when she was five (as soon as she could read) but has only recently parlayed her love of writing into a career. She has written several articles on Japanese culture and mythology for the Iwakuni Previews–a Marine Corps Base magazine–and keeps a running blog on her travels at www.nikki-bennett.com. FOUR FIENDS is the first chapter in the Countdown to Dammerung Series.
Please visit http://www.nikki-bennett.com/ for more information on Nikki Bennett and her books.
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