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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
There is good magic and bad magic all around us and when witches and warlocks plot their battles, good against evil, anything can happen, especially on Halloween. Elliott is a boy growing up in a non-magical world. But he has the potential to do magic. Both his parents and his teacher, Mr. Moonbeam, have magical powers. But Elliott’s magic seems to be out of control. He never knows when something he thinks will happen, like throwing a book at the mean girl at school, Allison. He only thought about it; he hadn’t actually intended for a book to go flying into the back of Allison’s head. With magical powers out of control, how is Elliott ever going to learn? With the king and the gentle guidance of his wise teacher, Mr. Moonbeam, Elliott learns a valuable lesson, that “Each mistake is a learning opportunity and life is full of mistakes, or learning opportunities.”
As a retired teacher myself, I have to admit I can see the markings of a teacher-written masterpiece in this work. Perhaps that’s what makes this story so genuine and complete and a powerful tale for young readers to enjoy. Author and teacher, Ryan Cowan’s novel, Mr. Moonbeam and the Halloween Crystal, has all the ingredients of a great adventure: magic, witches and warlocks, dragons and mermaids, and so much more. The plot develops at a rapid pace, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, waiting for the next unexpected twist. The characters are both believable and lovable, except for the evil characters, which are believable, but certainly not lovable. With great dialogue, narrative and character description, the reader is thoroughly immersed in this story from beginning to end.
As an author, I know that sometimes the most difficult thing to do is choose the right name for each character. Ryan has chosen wisely. In particular, his choice of Mr. Moonbeam for the teacher whose light and magic shines its greatest underneath the light of the moon which breaks the darkness of night. Noir is French for the color black but is also associated with crime fiction and all things evil and is the perfect name for the evil warlock who threatens the stability of many worlds on Halloween with his evil magic. The other names were also well-chosen, but these two specifically stood out as being symbolic of the good versus evil plot of the story. A great read.