THE KINGDOM BENEATH THE WELL
by M.D. Couturier
Middle Grade Fantasy
Friendless and unhappy, eleven-year-old Christina longs for her estranged father, fights with her mother, and gets teased at school for being different. Fairy tales and fantasy novels provide her only escape, and when she falls into an enchanted well one day, she is transported to a magnificent kingdom inhabited by dragons, flying unicorns, and other wondrous creatures. With the help of an ancient order, Christina embarks upon a quest to destroy an evil king...only to discover that things aren't what they seem. An even greater struggle awaits her—and a far more terrible enemy.
In some ways, this story reminded me a bit of the WIZARD OF OZ. The main character, Christina, isn't exactly happy with her life and winds up in a fantastical world.
One of my favorite parts of this book is the fantasy. It's rich, diverse and reels in with all of the wonderful creatures and surroundings. Around every corner, there's a surprise. . .and it's hard to guess what might come next.
This book is for middle grade audiences, however, some parts of it might be a little much for the younger end of this group. There are several subjects and messages touched upon, which I personally feel are still a bit much for 8-9 year olds. Plus, the length and vocabulary is more fitting to ages 10 and up.
The character herself is a girl easy to sympathize with. She's loving, clever and definitely adventure seeking in her own way. She and her new found friends come up against pretty rough adversaries, and I often wondered how she'd make it through. In other words, there are twists, turns and tension to keep the reader guessing until the very end. The plot has a nice pace, and the descriptions never lead into the realm of boring, making sure kids aren't tempted to lay it down.
The writing itself is fitting of the age group. The vocabulary does challenge at times, but I'd never call this a bad thing. The only thing that bothered me a little was the speed at which some things happened. It would have been nice to see and experience things more than simply be told that they were so. It breaks up the flow at times, and made the writing feel a little rough.
But I don't believe kids will be bothered by this as much as I an adult am. I'm sure kids will thoroughly enjoy the fantasy and love diving into this fantastic world.
Born in South Korea, M.D. Couturier was raised in Michigan. Couturier, who is legally blind, once spent a month as an aid worker in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he unloaded supplies for an American dentist who was setting up a clinic there. When he’s not writing, Couturier enjoys listening to history books and watching movies.