Moving right along into my SPFBO pile, today I’m reviewing the Horrible Imaginings: Theft of Sapphire.
Four clans of genies are hidden deep in an abandoned mine, surrounded by a forest full of monsters, mysteries and treasure.
Judah is determined to pass his wishgranter’s exam and join Alifair’s Repo Agency—premier repossessors of broken, malfunctioning and delinquent wishes. Only one problem–Judah is a terrible genie. His wishes never quite turn out how he pictures them in his head. The rest of his family already works for the agency, outsmarting horrofiends (wishes turned rotten) and raking in the treasure, and Judah is tired of being left out. When he grants a deadly, fanged monster that comes out three inches tall, though, Judah fails his exam and is barred from joining the agency.
To make matters worse, someone is breaching the Wishrot, the junkyard for malfunctioning wishes, and releasing the most dangerous sorts of imaginings. Desperate to disprove his exam score, Judah accepts an off-the-books repo job to find a malfunctioning dragon—complete with chrome scales and scented exhaust.
With the help of the three-inch monster, now named Goliath, Judah hunts the dragon. His search leads him back to the Wishrot, where he discovers a girl from a banished clan of genies breaking into the junkyard. She claims she’s looking for her brother. According to her, the Wishrot isn’t a junkyard at all, but a cover for an ancient prison hidden beneath the defective wishes. Now Judah must decide if he will help rescue the girl’s captive brother. If caught, Judah risks eternal imprisonment by ancient powers wielding forbidden magic. And though reuniting the girl with her brother seems like a cause worthy of a repo genie, is it worth the risk of never seeing his own family again?
Moonlight bullied its way through the doorway, beating up shade and mugging darkness—it invaded the cramped cabin and dropkicked Judah’s shadow across the wooden floor of a single room.
This is the story of Judah Smith, who is a young genie on the cusp of taking his wishgranter’s exam so that he can begin work in the local wish repo agency and take possession of broken or wrong wishes.
Meanwhile, someone is letting the worst horrofiends (wishes that have gone bad and become monsters) out of the magical junkyard that houses them, and Judah decides to try and track them down as the reward could help save his family from eviction. Shenanigans are abound, as I’m sure you can imagine!
This book was, to me, very reminiscent in tone to Harry Potter. I wouldn’t necessarily call it middle-grade, but it’s on the cusp, I think. It felt something like a mash up of Harry Potter, The Goonies, and Aladdin. That said, I often found it quite unique. It brought to mind those things, while taking me on a pretty entertaining journey of its own.
It’s often got a laugh or three in it. Whether it is Judah stealing Rusty, his family’s magical, flying, talking minivan (appropriately known as a flying car pet), or a group of failed wishes of ninja martial arts masters who are in fact ninja masters of arts and crafts.
It was a well written book, and read really easily. It wasn’t overly long, though I did find it a bit slow at times. There weren’t many grammatical errors in it, but there were sometimes inconsistencies that threw me off, like Judah not knowing what a Tyrannosaurus was, but later pointing out that his little sister was reading a book about dinosaurs. One character is described as completely bald, only to let another character ‘run their fingers through his hair’ a few pages later. So, it could use another pass of edits, but was fairly well presented all told.
Overall, I thought it was a fun book. The plot ran a bit slow for me at times, so in the middle I found that I was floundering to stay interested it, but I stuck with it, and I am glad I did too, because the ending wrapped up everything while leaving enough open that I’ve got some interest in book two and what happens there. All told, I would say that I had 6.5/10 stars of fun with Theft of Sapphire.