Thanks to the author for letting me listen to and review the audiobook of The Witches of Crannock Dale! I’ll also be interviewing Thomas Kane on the Sunday Brunch Series soon so keep an eye out for that 🍳🎤
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: The Witches of Crannock Dale
- Series: Mara of the League #1
- Author: Thomas M. Kane (Nar. Stevie Marie)
- Publisher & Release: Self Published, 2019
- Length: 288 pages (11h48m run time)
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ yes for middle grade fans!
Spies. Witch-hunts. A little girl who asks dangerous questions.
When invaders threaten, eleven-year-old Mara must grow up fast. All her life, her homeland has been on the brink of war with the Commonwealth of Waan. But as bells warn of approaching enemies, her own realm’s knights arrest her favorite aunt for witchcraft. This prompts her to rethink much of what she has been taught about her country. When adults ignore her points, she teams up with unlikely friends in a bid to rescue her aunt and protect her village. Mara must make sense of grown-up politics if she is to save the people she loves.
This is Book One of the political fantasy series Mara of the League.
I thought that for a middle-grade, this one checks pretty much all the boxes for me. I can’t speak for the rest of the series yet but Mara is 11 here, and the content stays 100% age audience appropriate. Although she is 17 in book two I believe it remains a middle grade age level throughout.
Mara is a very smart and brave little girl who eventually becomes a spy for her country in later books. Here in Witches we are introduced to Mara and her family and learn about the plots and political conflicts happening in the world. Told in the first person point of view of an 11 year old, I think it’s a marvel that Kane had me interested in the imposter bandit king and how the war will eventually unfurl.
Mara is an easy character to root for as she becomes involved in local issues. I liked her brother too and the rest of the family.
As I’m obviously not 12 anymore (🤣🤣🤣), when reviewing for middle grade, I tend to look more at whether the book is fast paced (yes), interesting (yes), repetitive (no), and age appropriate (yes). I think it will hold their attention well. It’s also extremely well edited for a self published book so that’s helpful!
Are the themes something I would want my little niece reading? Yes, absolutely. Mara has to navigate complicated adult politics while still doing what she thinks is right. She also learns that sometimes rules do have a time and place in society, and that actions can have severe and unintended consequences. I like the sense of responsibility she has towards family and even town & country.
The issue I had is that the audio itself did not hold my interest, likely due to the Authors Direct app and a few challenges that it presented. That was an experience related issue though and I think Stevie Marie was a pretty solid, clearly spoken narrator. I did end up reading on Kindle Unlimited though and was then lucky enough to see the map and drawings.
Overall: I’m excited to keep reading to see how Mara and the war develop. It’s a solid middle grade read that I think YA can enjoy too since Mara ages fairly quickly in the books. Stay tuned for the author interview!