By Joseph Bruchac
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011. 346 pgs. Teen fiction
Many years before, Rashko's ancestor, Pavol was the sole survivor when his family was killed by an evil sorcerer. Pavol, keeping his identity a secret, trained intensely to be able to defeat the sorcerer, but he acted the part of a fool to keep himself nonthreatening. After his success, his kingdom had been left alone for years, living in peace. Now, however, Rashko's parents, who are pretty foolish themselves, mysteriously disappear, and Rashko is left with his foolish older brother Paulek to protect their home from the dark force advancing toward them. Rashko knows his brother has a good heart, but he seems taken in by their sudden "guests," while Rashko recognizes that they have only evil in mind. Although Rashko is wise, he doesn't know if he will be enough to save his family and his home.
Drawing on Slovakian culture, Bruchac has created a warm fantasy world. With adventure, a tiny (really, really tiny) hint of romance, humor, and the interweaving of Rashko's and Pavol's stories, this book is a lot of fun to read. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to fans of The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.
4 stars. Clean read.