Peter tried to convince himself that his karate teacher was just a little weird. Then in the fall of his eighth grade year, all his opinions changed: Sensei was completely and utterly crazy. He wanted to recruit Peter to become his apprentice in performing Buddhist exorcisms all over town.
Peter thought he had enough on his plate with the normal stresses of teenage life: dealing with parents, fitting in, making good grades, and getting the girl. How could he possibly be expected to add “battling ancient evil spirits” to the list?
In Peter Hunter and the Minions of Mara, one boy is given the necessary tools to take on the ancient, invisible forces of evil that ensnare humans daily. Peter finds his life revolutionized by Buddhism. He finds his life further transformed when the myths and lore of dark spirits are discovered to be real and active, hidden in plain view.
Can he overcome the temptations of Mara and his minions while protecting his fellow humans from their wrath and trickery?
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Independently published
Series: Freelance Exorcists, #1
This book was kindly supplied to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed below are my own, and have not been influenced in any way by factors external to the story.
Refreshingly wholesome and unique, Peter Hunter and the Minions of Mara is a story that younger readers will devour. Janie St. Clair weaves a thrilling narrative of growth around the core values of Buddhism, while still managing to tie in elements of danger, excitement and the supernatural to keep her readers hooked.
By far the strongest element of St. Clair’s story is her characters. Peter is charming and lively, instantly lovable with a character arc that could put most middle-grade authors to shame. There’s a tone of subtle encouragement for the reader to learn and strengthen alongside Peter, but this was never allowed to overpower the storyline. Additionally, it was wonderful to see a range of well-developed characters in supporting roles, who brought surprising depth to the overall plot and made Peter’s story that much more real.
I did take some issue with the timeline of the narrative, which tended to jump forward in leaps that were a little jarring. A more condensed plot that takes place in a shorter time period may have helped in raising both the stakes and the overall level of tension in the novel. But given the strength of the leading character and the frequency of high-energy, fast-paced scenes, I don’t think this will be an issue for many younger readers.
All things considered, this is a brilliant gift choice for a middle-grade reader this holiday season. Fans of Percy Jackson will adore the charismatic protagonist and mythical monsters, and even the most reluctant of readers could be swayed by elements of action, mild romance and friendship. Definitely keep an eye on this series – it looks exceedingly promising.