You'd have to have, like, a lentil for a soul to hate wiener dogs. ~Zuzana from The Daughter of Smoke & Bones by Laini Taylor

Monday, August 29, 2011

REVIEW: The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson


THE FAMILIARS are the magical animal companions to a wizard or witch. When three young wizards-in-training get kidnapped by the evil queen of the land, it is up to their familiars to go a dangerous journey to rescue them. You'll meet Aldwyn, an orphan alley cat pretending to have telekinesis; Skylar, a know-it-all blue jay who can cast illusions; and Gilbert, a hapless tree frog with the ability to see visions of the future in pools of water. See what happens when these three animal assistants -- typically relegated to the background or found sitting quietly on their wizard's shoulders -- go on a heroic adventure of their own!

From the Author

One of the unique things about this book is that we co-authored it. The two of us literally sat in the same room for months and months writing every word, sentence, and paragraph together. Andrew is the typist (because he's frankly a much faster typer), while Adam sits beside him, or across from him in a nice, comfy chair, or sometimes paces around. Neither one of us were English majors in college or had any book writing experience previously, but we've both read a lot, watched a lot, and lived inside our imaginations since we were little kids. Andrew played with his Star Wars and GI Joe action figures for hours on end as a kid (probably until he was way too old to be playing with them), and Adam grew up on Dungeons and Dragons and video games and comic books. Writing fantasy is like bringing all of those childhood daydreams to life, and the best part is, it's our job!

From the Inside Flap

Running to save his life, Aldwyn, the street-wise orphan alley cat, ducks into a strange store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard-in-training, comes in to pick out his familiar - a magical animal companion. Aldwyn's always been clever. But magical? Apparently Jack thinks so--and Aldwyn is happy to play along. Anything to get out of town! Once home with Jack in Stone Runlet, Aldwyn thinks that he's got it made--a life of ease with a boy who loves him. He just has to convince the other familiars--the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert--that he's the telekinetic cat he claims to be.
Then, after the sky lights up with an omen, the unthinkable happens. Jack and the other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia. Together Aldwyn, Skylar and Gilbert must save them--but how?
On their thrilling quest across the land, the familiars will face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries old secret, and discover a mysterious destiny that will change them all forever.
Their magical adventure--an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your seat action, and laugh-aloud humor--is an unforgettable tale of fantasy and friendship.

From the Back Cover

"You must find a way to rescue them," said Kalstaff. "It is up to you."             "Us? How?" asked Aldwyn in disbelief. "We're just a bunch of familiars."        
            "I see the worry on your faces, but fear not. Heroism appears in many forms," said the old wizard  in a whisper. "Not always man or woman, but also fur, feather, and tongue."

About the Author

ADAM JAY EPSTEIN spent his childhood in Great Neck, New York, while ANDREW JACOBSON grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but the two met in a parking garage out in Los Angeles. They have been writing for film and television together ever since. This is their first book.


  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061961086


This is a perfectly woven tale that should appeal to everyone!  The story centers around three animal familiars who have magical capabilities (think the triumvirate of Harry Potter) and their human loyals.  Familiars have been in story telling as long as there have been witches and are creatures who bond with humans and assist them in casting spells.  Aldwyn, an alley cat on the run, hides in a magical pet store where he is quickly adopted by Jack and meets other familiars.  Gilbert the tree frog (paging Gilbert Gottfried) and Skylar, a smug know-it-all blue jay.  The three must come together to save the humans from the evil familiar of the queen.  After reading about the queen's evil hare, I was immediately reminded of Senator Kevin, the bunny of the apocalypse from the Prickly City comic strip. 

The story, like all good fairy tales, involves a quest and the three must find the answers to some riddles in order to find elements that will help them defeat Paksahara, the evil hare.   There is comic relief woven in with edge of your seat action that will have you finishing this book in no time!  I really think that this book could be read aloud to a younger child and it would be enjoyable for both reader and listener.  I can really see this made into a movie much like the Secret of Nimh.  This will really appeal to readers of the Tale of Desperaux and the Spiderwick Chronicles. 


  1. The Familiars seem like it is a great fun magical read! Great review!

    Tia @ Falling For Books

  2. This was already on my to read list. Excited by the review and giveaway.

    Myths & Mythmakers



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