The Keeper

Part I An Invitation

Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
275 Pages
Reviewed on 12/29/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Kayleigh Perumal for Readers' Favorite

The Keeper: Part 1: An Invitation by Craig Speakes is an action-packed adventure about twelve-year-old Arthur who discovers a little black box in the lake near his house one ordinary summer day. He doesn’t realize this seemingly innocuous event will change his life forever. After the government enlists his help with a top-secret space mission, Arthur begins a thrilling quest to make first contact with extra-terrestrial life forms. But Arthur’s initial excitement quickly abates when things take an abrupt turn, and the mission is forced to launch ahead of schedule with little preparation. Though they reach the planet successfully, several team members, including Arthur’s father, are captured en route. More importantly, they discover on arrival that they have stumbled into a 100-year inter-species war between the Solarians and the Treskans. Will Arthur manage to survive this war, find his dad, and get back to earth?

While directed primarily at children and younger readers, a few aspects of The Keeper are more suited to mature readers. The action scenes are particularly intense and intricate. Nonetheless, Craig Speakes writes masterfully and keeps the reader enthralled and curious about what will happen next. My favorite character was undoubtedly Arthur’s sarcastic, offbeat, talking black cat, whose dialogue often made me laugh aloud. Iryna Sadova’s illustrations are eerily beautiful and help to paint the combat scenes more clearly. The Keeper is a short, fast-paced page-turner that ends deliciously on a cliff edge. I can’t wait for the next installment.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

An Invitation by Craig Speakes asks the question what would you do if suddenly your cat could talk to you? That’s what happened to twelve-year-old Arthur. And that’s not all that happened. Strange things began when men in black blocked his route home from his favorite fishing spot and a storm caused him to see weird lights. When he discovers that he’s going to be involved in a secret government project to help make a spaceship fly, that’s when things become increasingly bizarre and dangerous. When he and his friends end up on an alien planet at war, the threats amplify. If they survive the war, will they ever be able to return to planet Earth?

Nothing makes a good story better than a twelve-year-old superhero, especially when the adventure includes intergalactic travels. Young readers will find this and more in Craig Speakes’ An Invitation from The Keeper series. Told in the third person narrative, the plot follows Arthur’s seemingly mundane summer activities by the lake, which turn from mysterious to bizarre in a matter of days. And that’s not all, as Arthur learns to communicate with his cat and, through the cat, other creatures; the bizarre takes on a whole new dimension of unbelievable events. Though, to be honest, these unbelievable events are developed by the author in such a way that young readers will certainly believe Arthur’s adventures. The setting is well described so the reader instantly feels part of the action. The characters are nicely developed and even the cat is quite believable in its profound and telling dialogue. The author uses dialogue wisely to help move the story forward, set the scene, and develop the characters. Overall, this is an engaging and exciting adventure.

Doreen Chombu

Arthur’s world is turned upside down when he discovers a mysterious box during his summer vacation. He sees unusual lights and is suddenly able to communicate with his cat. Arthur and the cat open the box but cannot investigate further because a military officer comes to collect it. Without the box, Arthur cannot communicate with his cat, and his life returns to normal. It does not last long because the military officer shows up at his doorstep, claiming Arthur is the only one who can open the box and that his services are required at a military research facility. Arthur instinctively carries his cat and is joined by his father on the way to the facility. The officer informs them that the box has extra-terrestrial connections and that they will need to travel into outer space to find out more. Who sent this box to Earth? Why does it only open for Arthur and his cat? Arthur has so many questions. Find out where this mysterious box will lead him in The Keeper by Craig Speakes.

A curious teenager, a grumpy cat, aliens, and more can be enjoyed in The Keeper. I was captivated by the never-ending mystery and suspense of this story. Many things are happening: the mystery of Arthur’s missing family members, the space mission, the alien resistance, and a talkative feline. The cat was my favorite character because he kept saying funny things that made me laugh. The book also contains pictures at different intervals, giving the reader visual depictions of the story. Craig Speakes is an amazing storyteller because he made the story conversational, fast-paced, and intriguing. If you need a children’s science fiction story, look no further than The Keeper.

Vincent Dublado

An Invitation is the first installment in the new series, The Keeper by Craig Speakes. Twelve-year-old Arthur and his family packed up their things at the end of July to move to his grandmother’s little cottage in the Lake District. As Arthur grows older, he feels that summer vacations are becoming a drag. But what appears to be a typical vacation turns up unsuspected surprises. It begins when he finds men in black while fishing at a nearby lake. Then a blinding flash of light causes the family cat to talk, and a fish he caught tries to make a deal with him. A mysterious box that hundreds of men are looking for then falls into the lake. These occurrences have got to be connected in some way; perhaps this is a major intergalactic phenomenon. Arthur will soon find out, as the government builds a spaceship that only he can navigate, and he discovers a planet in dire need of a savior.

An Invitation is a bold, exciting children’s novel containing promising new adventures which do not fall short of the zest and youthful energy that you expect in a book targeting young readers. Craig Speakes adopts a proven balance between action and dialogue, and you pay attention when the aliens speak to earthlings to explain what happened to the planet Tresk and how they intend to take it back. The human characters are impressively multi-dimensional. Arthur, as the main protagonist, has the typical preoccupations and concerns of a twelve-year-old but he gains a sense of responsibility when he embraces a situation that happened beyond his control. The adventure doesn’t end here, and this first volume offers plenty for readers to look forward to. An Invitation is a good start to this series, and I highly recommend it.

Essien Asian

Arthur's summer holiday at his grandparents' cottage is winding down to a boring conclusion for him until a series of weird events take place. He is suddenly able to communicate with his cat and their new relationship leads to the discovery of a strange-looking box with a puzzle on it. What Arthur does not realize is that his determination to open this box will set him on a path to the adventure of a lifetime where he will become a principal player in the battle for the survival of an alien species. Join Arthur and his feline companion as they discover that there will be more to this holiday's activities than fishing on their favorite side of the lake in The Keeper: Part I An Invitation by Craig Speakes.

Craig Speakes packs a punch with the first installment in the series. The storyline is unusual in the sense that it may be a children's book but its contents pleasantly surprised me as I was not expecting the intricate action-packed offering that followed. The characters are fleshed out appropriately and their origin stories are simple enough for a reader to connect the dots when the mystery angle sets in. I rather enjoyed Cat's ripostes and sometimes laughable suggestions in the discussions with Arthur as they maintained a certain level of humor in an otherwise businesslike story. The attention to detail, especially in the battle scenes, is quite impressive. Speakes combines impressive detailing with an interesting conversation that is heavy on suspense to create an incredibly enjoyable novel for all ages in The Keeper. I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the sequel.