Book Review: From Frights to Flaws by Sunayna Prasad

FromFrightsToFlaws_SC-13-05-101Title: From Frights to Flaws (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions)

Author: Sunayna Prasad

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Age Group: Middle Grade

Rating: 4 stars

Links: Goodreads

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy can no longer stand the toughness of her uncle and wants a better life. But one day she discovers not only the existence of magic, but also a villain hunting her down. The villain uses magic and magical technology to kidnap Alyssa to the Fiji Islands. As much as she wants to go home, she has to face some dangerous challenges first. Not only that, the villain himself must also be defeated. Can Alyssa succeed, even with the help of her mentors?

Alyssa McCarthy has a tough life. Her uncle is very strict since her aunt passed away, and her parents died years ago. She and her cousin Hailey are being homeschooled by their unforgiving uncle, and every small mistake is frowned upon. She dreams of a life better than the one she’s leading right now, with more adventure and less hardships. When her babysitter is attacked by magic, Hailey and Alyssa are blamed, but they both know they didn’t do anything – magic did it, and they were warned about the magic attack by a marble statue named Simon. Simon warns Alyssa that a dark magician is after her and wants to kill her.

When Alyssa is kidnapped by Master Beau, the villain, to the Fiji Islands, she’s rescued by good wizards in the nick of time. They mentor Alyssa, telling her all about the world of magic and her role in it, but if she wants to defeat Master Beau, Alyssa will need a lot more than theoretical knowledge.

From Frights to Flaws is aimed at middle graders. It gives its readers a quirky story about a twelve year old girl struggling to fit in and dreaming of a life where magic exists. Alyssa is a fun character. She’s quick to take charge of the situation when needed, but she can also be emotional and often needs help from adult mentors throughout her journey. Alyssa is a dreamer, and also quite brave. I’m sure middle graders will enjoy reading all about her.

But since I’m not the target age, there were some flaws in the book that stood out for me. They weren’t all that annoying, but they did distract me from reading. For starters, at the beginning there’s a scene where Alyssa calls her godfather, Alex. His third sentence is something along the lines of: “Oh, hey Alyssa, how are you? I haven’t heard from you in three years.” And then the conversation casually continues. I doubt this would happen in real life. If I hadn’t heard from someone in three years, I wouldn’t just go all “oh hey bla bla”. This actually startled me, and I had to read the sentence a few times to get it right. I doubt middle graders would have trouble simply accepting this, but for me, as an older reader, this made the phone conversation turn all strange.

Then there were Alyssa and Hailey’s friends who for some reason were also involved in the story, and the kidnapping, although they got little screen time and didn’t actually add to the story. It would’ve probably been better just to focus on Hailey and Alyssa, and leave out the other girls since they barely had any lines anyway. I had the feeling I didn’t really know them and didn’t care about them either.

There’s one more instance which I thought was strange. Alyssa’s uncle loses his memory, and everyone’s reaction is kind of ‘meh’. He doesn’t even recognize his own daughter, Hailey, yet she doesn’t seem to mind that much. Now I know the uncle was strict, but he’s Hailey’s dad. She should’ve at least had a more powerful reaction. When Alyssa and Hailey call their grandparents afterward, their reaction is a little odd as well.

But apart from these flaws, I liked the book. It was a quick, fast-paced read. The writing was all right and definitely suitable for the target audience. I wouldn’t mind reading more adventures featuring Alyssa as the main character. She was a great middle grade heroine, and her magical missions definitely seem intriguing.


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