Calico Rae

The Twisted Towers

Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
278 Pages
Reviewed on 04/05/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers is a work of fiction in the fantasy and paranormal subgenres. It is aimed at younger readers and was penned by author Doug Weller. The book follows plucky young adventurer Calico who discovers she has a magical bond with a leopard. After Calico’s brother is kidnapped by the Insect Queen, she and her leopard companion must travel around the world to rescue him, a journey that will help Calico come to understand her new power and what she can accomplish by mastering it.

This story is one filled with charm and adventure, introducing the world to the concept of ‘genifying’ that allows living things to connect to each other on a level previously impossible. It’s a fun concept that kids will love, and seeing Calico discover and then learn about her new power was delightful and exciting all at once. Author Doug Weller has created a perfect leading lady for a children’s fantasy adventure in the form of Calico who is determined, upbeat, and moral as she goes on a quest to save her brother. The story is exciting with enough hurdles for Calico to overcome to keep readers on the edge of their seats throughout. Overall, Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers is an excellent starting point for a fantasy series, telling a complete and satisfying story with plenty of room for the world and characters to grow after the last page. You’ll pick it up for the engaging premise, but the plucky hero and dynamic adventure will keep you glued to the pages right until the very end.

Emma Megan

Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers by Doug Weller is a delightful, fast-paced children's book about a gifted twelve-year-old girl who discovers her magical power in a risky way. It follows Calico Rae and her fifteen-year-old brother, Luca, who spend their summer stuck with their uncle at Cowslip Cottage. As their parents fight all the time and seem to choose between them, Luca promises his sister that they will always be together against the world. But both Calico and Luca have a secret of their own. However, Calico tells her brother about her secret—about the strange place with a famous past she discovered and about the special connection she developed with a wild animal. Shortly after this, Luca disappears. Will Calico learn to control her magical power, find Luca, and save him?

Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers by Doug Weller is a fantasy adventure brimming with unpredictability, magic, and an underlying message about caring and living in harmony with animals and respecting them for their abilities. Doug Weller's story is magnificent and beautifully written, and it pulsates with creativity, adventure, and suspense. Everything that happens to Calico, the leopard, and with her friends (Shanti and Wick), her mentors (Una Ornithol and Juan Julius), the dying city, the Twisted Towers, and all the dangerous and wonderful creatures the protagonist meets make this book unlike anything I've ever read. I firmly believe that no kid will be able to resist this magical adventure as it's an excellent combination of extraordinary and risky adventurers, of unbreakable bonds between humans and animals, of skill and potential, and of exceptional magic.

Jennifer Ibiam

Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers by Doug Weller is the story of two siblings, named Calico and Luca, who went on a summer holiday to Cowslip Cottage in England. Their parents fought all the time, leaving the children to play about in the town. Out of curiosity, Calico found herself at Elms-Lee Menagerie, run by Una Ornithol. At this strange place, she discovered her power to connect with a leopard. Someone exposed this secret, leading to the kidnapping of Calico’s brother and a hunt for her life. Over mountains, jungles, seas, and into lands unknown, she traveled to find and free Luca from the shackles of the Insect Queen. Can Calico tap into her newly discovered abilities enough to save herself and her brother?

Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers by Doug Weller is a captivating book with many lessons. It is a fantastic fable that would appeal to young readers between seven and fifteen years. Doug created a link between fantasy and real life; animals and humans, the world and elements. This novel was simply brilliant, teaching love, discipline, restraint, betrayal, loyalty, acceptance, and determination. I loved the characters because of their excellent development and consistency. However, trailing Calico was exhausting, as she was a trouble magnet. The astute antics of Shanti, Wick, Floyd, and Pardus drew me in. I loved Manuel too; a little genius that made me laugh, even though he lived in squalor. Regina Rappis is a great lesson that power is neither enough nor absolute. Thank you for a beautiful book, Doug. Please, write more.

Vincent Dublado

An enthralling story about the bond between a leopard and a young girl, Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers by Doug Weller is surefooted in its plot and precise in its characterizations. Calico Rae is the twelve-year-old protagonist who is sent to her uncle’s farm after her parents’ divorce. Her older brother, Luca, lives with their father in the United States. While farm life proves to be boring for a young girl oozing with energy and curiosity, she discovers a decrepit mansion that used to have a menagerie on its grounds. Here she meets the groundskeeper, Una Ornithol, who lives with a boy and a girl who care for the animals residing in the menagerie. She also encounters Pardus, a black leopard that shares a mystical connection with her that Una refers to as 'genifying.' Calico will undergo a dangerous genifying trial. This is something that she must do as the menagerie comes under threat, and her brother disappears during his farm visit.

I love stories that feature young people only when it’s clear what they are trying to say. Here, Doug Weller conveys a pristine message about our relationship to nature. The way he spins a story that brims with fantastic scenarios makes me feel young and wish I could be the same age as Calico once again. Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers reconciles whatever differences kids and grownups have about their fiction choices. It sweeps you up in a current of fantastic elements and takes you on an arc of tremendous action. It draws upon myths and folklore to take you into the essence of the storyline where even the mysterious Insect Queen becomes a welcome sinister character that sustains the storyline. This is a high-adventure fantasy tale that will pique the interest of both young and adult readers.

Rylanne Burdette

Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers by Doug Weller is an adventure-filled, fantastical book perfect for children in upper elementary and middle school. Readers follow Calico, a young girl who realizes she has an uncommon gift. Wanting to hone her ability, Calico meets new people and finds herself in the midst of evil she never expected. Her brother is somehow involved in the chaos around her, and when he goes missing, Calico is determined to find him. But things are not what they seem, and she might not know her brother as well as she thought she did.

I have enjoyed the middle-grade fantasy genre for as long as I can remember, and Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers was a fun one to pick up. Although it took me a little time to get into, I soon got hooked following Calico on a journey she never expected to find herself on. The side characters quickly grew on me, and I liked how different they were from Calico; each character was their own person, and they all contributed to the story in a unique way. By the end of the book, I was addicted, and I loved the imagery of the two towers and everything that went on inside them. Overall, I had a good time reading Calico Rae: The Twisted Towers by Doug Weller, and I would recommend it to children ages 9-14. I’m excited to see what happens next!