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Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire

Review

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire

ARLO FINCH IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE by John August is an invigorating novel filled with exciting twists and turns through the woods and into magical lands. In this book, seventh grader Arlo Finch moves to Pine Mountain, an isolated Colorado town filled with dilapidated houses, quiet mountains and the ancient woodland magic that lives within it. Moving to a new town is never easy, and his family already has made some major adjustments --- his father being accused of unconfirmed treason and fleeing the country, forcing his now single mother to pick up temporary jobs to make ends meet, and his teenage sister growing more cynical day by day. Arlo already sees the world differently, with a million questions in his head and his Heterochromia Iridum (one eye brown, one eye green) but the more he sees in Pine Mountain, the more he can't un-see.

"ARLO FINCH IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE keeps readers interested from start to finish....Perfect reading for any age...this book breathes a lot of life into each page and Arlo’s story has just begun."

Arlo's curiosity has him finding more questions than answers once he joins the Rangers, a mountain scouting troupe --- with some questions easier to answer than others. What's the best type of knot to use to escape from a second-story window? How does one use a compass? What's a bestiary? Why are things appearing that aren't there?

Fueled by the natural wonders around him and a mystical world that blends into ours, Arlo phases through planes of existence into the Long Woods, the mysterious purgatory that breathes through the real world, and the Realm. Arlo tries to make sense of the Long Woods which seems to pull him into its magic and is also trying to kill him. The Rangers become his first real friends and helpful allies, using their life skills and their knowledge of the magic that lives within the woods --- and in themselves.

ARLO FINCH IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE has an amazing storyline. The title alone sparks an interest with the reader. Arlo's natural curiosity mimics all of the inner thoughts of a young adult brought into new surroundings, forced to interact with unfamiliar people and learn ways to approach every possible situation.

Through mystery, adventure and many near-death experiences, Arlo finds many new skills while learning how to be a true friend. Each unique character connects with the audience at every level with a person that feels like he or she has actually been in your life. There is always magic in the woods, and Arlo seems to have stumbled into something even older than that. His friends help him understand this ethereal world of wonder, but the young girl trapped on the other side constantly tells him to stay away.

ARLO FINCH IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE keeps readers interested from start to finish, filling the readers’ heads with visions of the Long Woods. The writing maintains a childhood curiosity in every character, causing each one to question what it is that they understand in the world. Everything can be seen in a different light, and this book brings a refreshing eye to a world where people understand reality as it is, and how much fantasy is already there. Perfect reading for any age --- whether it’s a young adult looking to get lost in the magic of the Long Woods, or a parent looking to connect with their child’s imagination, this book breathes a lot of life into each page and Arlo’s story has just begun.

Reviewed by Emi Debos on February 8, 2018

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire
(Arlo Finch #1)
by John August