- Title: Jorvik Calling
- Series: Soul Riders #1
- Author: Helena Dahlgren (Star Stable Entertainment AB)
- Narrator: Jennifer Jill Araya
- Length: 5 hours 38 min (192 pages)
- Publisher & Release: May 2020
- Rate & Recommend: YES for the middle grade age group
Thank you so much to Andrews McMeel Audio via NetGalley for the free audiobook in exchange for an honest review! I love audiobooks and have listened to a ton of them but have yet to actually review one, so bear with me! Feedback is appreciated!
First off here is the description of the story from GoodReads:
Step into the universe of the massively popular online MMORPG game Star Stable, and follow four friends who discover their magic powers and learn that every girl can be a hero in this fantasy trilogy.
Soul Riders tells the heroic tale of four young girls who have been chosen by destiny to save the world from the ancient demon: Garnok and his band of dangerous Dark Riders. Lisa is a teenage girl who is still coming to terms with the tragic loss of her mother in a riding accident and has sworn never to go near a horse again until she met Starshine, a mysterious blue-maned steed who comes to her in dreams. New on the island of Jorvik, Lisa befriends Alex, Linda, and Anne. Under the guidance of mystical druids, they discover they each have a special bond to their horses that gives them magical powers. While trying to balance school, family, and friendships they have to figure out what it means to be a Soul Rider. They are attacked by the Dark Riders and the mysterious Mr. Sands, discovering that their horses are in danger. Instead of relying on their combined strength, they decide to split up on their quest to find answers and learn to fight back against their enemies. However, will it be too late before they realize their mistake?
Jorvik Calling is the first installment in the epic, fantasy trilogy, Soul Riders, about magic, friendship, and horses bound to thrill all young equestrian fans
I have not played nor even heard of Star Stable before, and I don’t think that affected my enjoyment of this book at all. As a lifelong rider I definitely connected a bit with the young girls, especially Alex, who likes to ride super fast on trails and seems fearless. The other characters and their horses each have interesting stories that I think will be thrilling to girls in the target age range for the books. Speaking of, do you even see this cover?? It radiates magic!
Jennifer Jill Araya seems like the perfect narrator for the book as well. She clearly differentiates between the girls’ voices, and does a decent job with the male voices as well. She portrays excitement and fear and sadness through her voice and I enjoyed listening to her. The music seemed super cringey for someone my age but was honestly really well done, with full songs composed and included within the story and as bonus content at the end. It definitely will add to young listener’s experience.
I also feel like the book is entirely appropriate for young girls. There is no profanity, no romance, and the scary parts are suspenseful but not overly terrifying. I would have NO problem handing this to any child capable of the reading and listening level. The emphasis on friendships, building trust, and self confidence are great themes for young readers. There is the theme of grief related to parental loss but nothing else too strong. My only qualm is that Lisa probably should have been more worried when her father didn’t return her text messages in a reasonable time frame. He just literally stays gone forever and I found that a little odd.
I was also surprised to find that this ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, I was expecting each book to wrap itself up like, for example, Saddle Club but with a fantasy twist. Man do I love reading about horses though, especially magic ones. Even as an adult. This is a really good building block for girls trying to get into fantasy as well, such as the Green Rider books for young adults.
Again I would fully recommend this to any age level of listener or reader. I thank the publisher and NetGalley again for allowing me to review the audiobook! All opinions are my own.
Have you read or listened to this book? Want to discuss what makes a good audiobook review? Drop a comment below!