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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Reach Between Worlds: The Arclight Saga, Book 1 is an epic, coming of age fantasy for young adults and adults, written by C.M. Hayden. Taro realized that having anything to do with Victor Mathan was a perilous undertaking at best, and he knew his father would be angry if he found out. But with both of his parents ill at home, Taro had to scrape enough money together to feed his family. He was their only answer. Taro’s little sister, Nima, was already fretting that Taro had agreed to make the delivery without setting a price beforehand as they approached the large door to the mansion. Victor Mathan was the richest man in Ashwick, but his reputation was an unsavory one. Mathan’s manservant was all set to send the brother and sister away, until the man himself stepped up and invited them in. Taro wanted to get his money and go, but Nima was intrigued by Mathan’s offer of another job for substantially more money. Taro insisted, and the two left with a special enchanted piece of parchment that would enable them to contact Mathan if they should change their minds. Taro knew Nima would be upset at the lost opportunity, even as he realized he should never have involved her in this transaction. She seemed to enjoy it all a bit too much and hadn’t realized the danger they had both been in. Later that night, Taro went to speak with her and was shocked to discover that she was gone. He found the parchment on her nightstand with her precise handwriting, agreeing to the job, and he saw Mathan’s response.
“It might’ve seemed like a novelty, but to Taro, feeling actual magic was a wonder unlike anything he’d ever experienced. For the first time in his life, he felt powerful.” C.M. Hayden’s iconic young hero, Taro, has a prosthetic foot that fits poorly and gives him trouble, and a grown-up’s share of responsibility to bear. Yet, somehow, he manages to master fears, physics, and the most stacked-against-him odds as he and his little sister apply for admission to the Magisterium in Endra Edun. With little money and the awareness that great peril was poised to fall upon them if their purpose in posing as students was discovered, Taro finds untold worlds, challenges, and camaraderie await him as he prepares along with his fellow students for the year-end trial. I was at first somewhat reluctant to take on yet another epic fantasy novel, but I’m very glad that I did. You see, The Reach Between Worlds: The Arclight Saga, Book 1 is more than just an epic fantasy or a coming of age novel or even an archetypal quest story -- it’s all those things and much more. There’s an original, fresh and exciting adventure tale following students in a school that will get even the most jaded Harry Potter reader thrilled at rediscovering magical classes, classes unlike any ever found in Hogwarts. Steampunk fans who never seem to get their fill of great stories to follow will also find their appetites whetted. As I read, I reveled in the fact that Hayden’s story had that touch of greatness for me that hearkened back to the classic high fantasy and quest adventures that I’ve enjoyed in the past. There is magic indeed in this exciting and adventure-filled debut novel. This young and promising author certainly managed to shake off my jaded attitude about fantasy, and I’m very glad that he did. I had a grand time reading his book. The Reach Between Worlds: The Arclight Saga, Book 1 is most highly recommended.