Review: The Gauntlet

Review: The Gauntlet

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Barely adjusting to her new home in the Upper East Side, Bangladeshi-American kid Farah finds herself sucked into the game of The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand after her younger brother, Ahmad, vanishes into the game. Alongside her friends, she must complete three challenges and failure to win will trap them- and Ahmad- forever.

I’ve been anticipating this book since Salaam Reads was first announced. And I can definitely confirm that this book was so worth the wait.

I really, really enjoyed the world building and game design. The way the story is mapped out is really brilliant. I hope to, maybe, see a graphic novel of this series somewhere down the line because of the Middle Eastern and South Asian influences Raizi had made a very dazzling and creative world. The way the world moves in pieces like a game was so pretty to imagine.

Farah is pretty headstrong and a loveable lead who is very aware of her own weaknesses. She’s constantly struggled with her want to ditch the challenge in search of her brother versus her need to navigate her and her friends out of the game. And she works alongside her friends to complete each challenge. Their friendship is very cute and they work well together, recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They’re all very intuitive and logical in situations that would have me in tears. (ahah)

I think the only downside was the lack of characterisation for Essie and Alex. Farah’s character comes out really strongly and the other two do come across as being more archetypes rather than their own persons. Also, its cultural aspects were so adorable and great to read. While the world seems almost alien to her friends, Essie and Alex, Farah finds familiarity in it and so did I. I wished this book existed when I was a kid.

Overall, it’s a solid fantasy debut in an exciting game world. At its heart, a story of family and friendship, making it a great for any young readers.



Book Review: Behind the Canvas by Alexander Vance

28550408you can find the book at:
Barnes & Noble
Author website

my review:
Rating: ★★★★☆

~ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review~

Claudia loves art but never truly understand what’s really under the surface until Pim appears in the painting she sees. She learns that Pim has been trapped in the world behind the canvas for centuries by a witch, and Claudia is now his only way to break the spells that keep him bound in the world of art. Using ancient magic, Claudia enters the world but finds that nothing is truly as it seems on paper.

Behind the Canvas was an exciting read, a really cute story that was filled with adventure. I really liked the anecdotes that appear at the end of each chapter after an artist was mentioned, it was a cool addition to the story though I felt some notes do drag on a bit and take up a bit of space but you do learn some interesting things if you don’t know much about art, like me. They did at first appear too academic to grab my attention but they’re actually really witty and do give better contextual knowledge. What I loved the most was the concept and how it wasn’t set in a random fantasy place but actually links with the real world and the way it works shows clear and deep thought in its creation. (Let’s just hope no one tries to  place their hand with yellow gloop on the actual Mona Lisa…)

However, I felt like the relationship between Claudia and Pim was severely missed out. It skims part where they get to know each other and I felt it should’ve developed that section a bit more to see how their friendship grew but, nonetheless, the way they really cared for each other did come through. I just felt like it was missing something in the beginning.

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Publication: February 23rd 2016 by Feiwel & Friends