Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island, #1)
"Worthy of every magical ounce." - Kirkus, starred reviewOn Emblem Island all are born knowing their fate. Their lifelines show the course of their life and an emblem dictates how they will spend it.Twelve-year-old Tor Luna was born with a leadership emblem, just like his mother. But he hates his mark and is determined to choose a different path for himself. So, on the annual New Year's Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire in the hopes of having them granted, Tor wishes for a different power.The next morning Tor wakes up to discover a new marking on his skin...the symbol of a curse that has shortened his lifeline, giving him only a week before an untimely death. There is only one way to break the curse, and it requires a trip to the notorious Night Witch.With only his village's terrifying, ancient stories as a guide, and his two friends Engle and Melda by his side, Tor must travel across unpredictable Emblem Island, filled with wicked creatures he only knows through myths, in a race against his dwindling lifeline.

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island, #1) Details

TitleCurse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 9th, 2020
PublisherSourcebooks Young Readers
ISBN-139781492697206
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Fantasy

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island, #1) Review

  • Ari
    January 1, 1970
    Blog | Instagram | Twitter | AmazonThank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine. "There are many ways to be strongthat don't require a sword." A warming story about friendship and learning life's lessons, The Curse of the Night Witch is chock-full of adventure from start to finish.Throughout the length of the story, you get to encounter a lot of characters that help the three leads—Tor, Melda and Engle—progress further. These characters are a Blog | Instagram | Twitter | AmazonThank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine. "There are many ways to be strongthat don't require a sword." A warming story about friendship and learning life's lessons, The Curse of the Night Witch is chock-full of adventure from start to finish.Throughout the length of the story, you get to encounter a lot of characters that help the three leads—Tor, Melda and Engle—progress further. These characters are always varied, as are the places that they come from, and though I wish that we'd spent a little more time getting to know then deeper than at surface level, it's not surprising for them to appear and then move along in this genre. It was, however, intriguing that a lot of them come from the stories that these three children read in the featured dark tales tome of The Book of Cuentos. Not only do I love novels that have stories within stories—which is one of the biggest reasons I've grown fond of The Hazel Wood series—but I love it when they're incorporated into the main plot and come alive. And because this trio of friends have to move along a map that traces these stories so that they can reach the Night Witch at the end of their quest, they have to constantly encounter—and sometimes battle—these stories in their real world. It's certainly entertaining.The Curse of the Night Witch has a colorful setting, full of interesting beasts and folklore, and it was lovely to see little lessons sprinkled throughout for readers: “Be careful what you wish for,” one of the most prominent ones. The bond that grows among Melda, Tor and Engle is so sweet to behold, because at its core this is a story about friendship and familial bonds; and there's a gripping foreshadowing angle at the end of what's to come in the next phase of the story. If you're a fan of quests like Engle, take a peek between these pages.
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  • Ms.Gaye
    January 1, 1970
    This is a stunning tale of adventure where characters and setting are as strong as the story. Tor, along with his friend Engle and his classmate Melda, discover that the worlds in the community handbook, "The Book of Cuentos" aren't merely fairy tales, they represent a dangerous reality that our 3 young protagonists must face. A short excerpt from the Cuentos (where a clue may be inferred) precedes each new challenge the kids deal with as they rush to defeat the curse placed upon them. If “Curse This is a stunning tale of adventure where characters and setting are as strong as the story. Tor, along with his friend Engle and his classmate Melda, discover that the worlds in the community handbook, "The Book of Cuentos" aren't merely fairy tales, they represent a dangerous reality that our 3 young protagonists must face. A short excerpt from the Cuentos (where a clue may be inferred) precedes each new challenge the kids deal with as they rush to defeat the curse placed upon them. If “Curse of the Night Witch” was one of the titles in the Rick Riordan Presents series (it isn’t but it fits nicely into that scheme) it would by far be my favorite! Highly recommended for middle grades collections. Grades 4+Thank you Sourcebooks Young Readers for the prepub copy. I’m anxiously awaiting Book 2!
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  • Angela Shores
    January 1, 1970
    Holy adventure, Batman! My mouth is still hanging opening. A marvelous middle grade tale but Oh. My. Word. It’s just the beginning of a series and it hasn’t even released yet. I’m going to need an ARC for every book in the series. Tor, Engle, and Melda set off to rid themselves of a curse and find more than adventure along the way as friendships form and they learn more about themselves; “there are many ways to be strong that don’t require a sword.” Percy Jackson meets every dark and spooky mons Holy adventure, Batman! My mouth is still hanging opening. A marvelous middle grade tale but Oh. My. Word. It’s just the beginning of a series and it hasn’t even released yet. I’m going to need an ARC for every book in the series. Tor, Engle, and Melda set off to rid themselves of a curse and find more than adventure along the way as friendships form and they learn more about themselves; “there are many ways to be strong that don’t require a sword.” Percy Jackson meets every dark and spooky monster tale you’ve heard in this story that is packed with courage and the unexpected. It is a must read for fantasy readers and those who love an exciting new adventure.
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  • Aly
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this!! I don't read middle grade books that often, and the ones I do are usually ones I grew up with. I loved the sound of this book, and I'm so happy that I can honestly say it was a fantastic read! The pacing is just perfect, giving us a gradual buildup and then full steam ahead. Tor and his friends were extremely relatable, and I have no doubt that readers will fall in love with them. While Tor is our male MC, I can say that anyone will enjoy him as our protagonist. I adored this book I loved this!! I don't read middle grade books that often, and the ones I do are usually ones I grew up with. I loved the sound of this book, and I'm so happy that I can honestly say it was a fantastic read! The pacing is just perfect, giving us a gradual buildup and then full steam ahead. Tor and his friends were extremely relatable, and I have no doubt that readers will fall in love with them. While Tor is our male MC, I can say that anyone will enjoy him as our protagonist. I adored this book, and I'll be picking up a physical hardback for sure!
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  • Jennifer Duell
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing adventure full of imagery. I could see everything; the beautiful colors, flora and fauna. Three friends embark on a quest and learn their strengths and weaknesses while learning to depend on each other.
  • Mila
    January 1, 1970
    The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.I really wanted to enjoy this book more, it has some very cool world-building and mythology, the characters were diverse and had some coll banter from time to time. But the story just wasn't interesting to pull me in, I didn't feel the urge to continue reading it even at the major plot points. I still think this novel has its audience and it's in no way a bad story, I simply The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.I really wanted to enjoy this book more, it has some very cool world-building and mythology, the characters were diverse and had some coll banter from time to time. But the story just wasn't interesting to pull me in, I didn't feel the urge to continue reading it even at the major plot points. I still think this novel has its audience and it's in no way a bad story, I simply wasn't into it.
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  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed reading this book that I received as an ACR at the ALA 2019 mid-winter conference. The story did take time for me to get into but once I did, I was eager to find out what would happen. The main character is Tor along with his friends Melda and Engle who go on a quest to find the Night Witch. I think my students will enjoy this mysterious world where everyone is born with an emblem. It was fun reading the short monster stories from the Book of Cuentos which gave us clues as to wh I really enjoyed reading this book that I received as an ACR at the ALA 2019 mid-winter conference. The story did take time for me to get into but once I did, I was eager to find out what would happen. The main character is Tor along with his friends Melda and Engle who go on a quest to find the Night Witch. I think my students will enjoy this mysterious world where everyone is born with an emblem. It was fun reading the short monster stories from the Book of Cuentos which gave us clues as to who they would encounter next. I appreciated the themes of friendship, not appreciating what you have and seeing people in a different light. The ending was a total surprise to me and I really enjoyed it. At first I was wondering how these kids would be able to do what many adults in the story couldn’t do. But she did an awesome job of bringing it all together. I’m hoping that this author has a sequel up her sleeve because I would love to find out what happens next!
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  • Sean Alexander
    January 1, 1970
    I am very lucky to have read an early version of this, and it has only gotten better! I have no doubt children are going to fall in love with the stories, adventure, and magic in the world of Emblem Island.
  • Kate Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    This book is so magical and unique...prepare to be amazed by this lush world
  • Rron Rexha
    January 1, 1970
    Read a draft of the book and immediately fell in love with the characters and the world. Cant wait to see it in stores and get my copy!
  • Teresa
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley, SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky, and Alex Aster for the opportunity to read Curse of the Night Witch in exchange for an honest review.Curse of the Night Witch is the first book in the Emblem Island series. The story takes place on Emblem Island (of course). All people are born with an emblem, a mark on their wrist or arm that denotes a certain skill, such as strength or leadership.Tor is the son of his village leader, and his emblem reflects this. He doesn't want to take up the l Thank you to NetGalley, SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky, and Alex Aster for the opportunity to read Curse of the Night Witch in exchange for an honest review.Curse of the Night Witch is the first book in the Emblem Island series. The story takes place on Emblem Island (of course). All people are born with an emblem, a mark on their wrist or arm that denotes a certain skill, such as strength or leadership.Tor is the son of his village leader, and his emblem reflects this. He doesn't want to take up the leadership position. He wants to be able to breath underwater. Being in water is his whole life, yet he must hide his passion. Once a year, the villagers, after they reach age twelve, get to make a wish during their annual Eve ceremony. Tor wants a new emblem. When his wish angers the wish-god, he is cursed with a short life, his emblem replaced with the terrible omen of a dark eye. Anyone who touches the curse gains the curse themselves. The only way to rid themselves of this curse is to hope the Night Witch will have mercy and remove the curse, or kill her.Now Melda, Engle, and Tor must follow the mythological clues from a collection of short stories called The Book of Cuentos. As they get closer and closer to the shadowed land of the Night Witch, a place lacking of feeling and color, they continue to encounter creatures and beings from the collected stories. One of the neat aspects about the structure of this book is between every chapter, one of the little short stories is inserted. They are very short and told in a fable sort of way with no dialogue. It's just a description of events leading to the creation or myth of one of the various creatures. Still, an interesting structural choice.While the beginning was rather interesting, the middle slogged on just a tad as the trio continues to encounter various myths from The Book of Cuentos. As a story, I liked the idea of the emblems that each person is born with. It somewhat reminds me of My Hero Academia where a large portion of the population is born with quirks, or Blank, where everyone is born with some kind of mark that ultimately pairs them with their life partner. It's a fun idea in the development of Emblem Island's world building.The characters are certainly Middle-grade. They are twelve and go through struggles with personal choice and will power that a middle-grade age person might go through, despite those challenges being presented in a fantasy lens. I think this is a very fun book for the age group to read. I also appreciated the fact that the entire book was contained within itself, except for the end. It could have been a stand-alone, but the climax and very end offer further adventures for these characters, adventures that seem potentially more intriguing than their first. Holistically, this book is enjoyable and quick, an easy recommendation.
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  • Jessica (Spooky KidLit & We Who Walk Here, Walk Alone)
    January 1, 1970
    Emblem Island is an incredible place full of magic, color, and adventure. It can also be a dangerous, treacherous place…especially if you’ve been cursed by the Night Witch, like Tor and his friends have been. Most Emblemites are born with an emblem somewhere on their body, a birthmark that indicates an ability—like singing beautifully, cooking like a master chef, or even breathing underwater—that determines your course in life. Tor, son of his village’s chieftess, was born with a leadership embl Emblem Island is an incredible place full of magic, color, and adventure. It can also be a dangerous, treacherous place…especially if you’ve been cursed by the Night Witch, like Tor and his friends have been. Most Emblemites are born with an emblem somewhere on their body, a birthmark that indicates an ability—like singing beautifully, cooking like a master chef, or even breathing underwater—that determines your course in life. Tor, son of his village’s chieftess, was born with a leadership emblem just like his mother’s. He hates it, though, and he wants more than anything to change his fate. So on the annual Eve celebration, when Emblemites submit a wish to the gods, Tor wishes for a different emblem.In a chilling instance of “be careful what you wish for,” Tor gets a nasty shock the next morning. Instead of the water-breathing emblem that he so desperately wants, he receives a curse: a blinking eye on his wrist that he learns is a malevolent gift from the fearsome Night Witch. She is the most frightening monster in the Book of Cuentos, the formative book of folklore that all Emblemites use as a guide to life on the island. When he accidentally passes his curse to his friends Engle and Melda, Tor must use the Book of Cuentos to find the Night Witch and convince her to remove the curse before all three of their lifelines run out.To find the witch, the friends go on an odyssey from their beautiful village by the ocean to the bleakest, scariest parts of the island. Author Alex Aster cannily intersperses tales from the Book of Cuentos between the group’s adventures, introducing the reader to the monsters the friends are about to encounter in increasingly terrifying stories. Letting the readers know what’s ahead, and what these monsters are capable of, adds a tremendous level of tension and suspense to an already exciting read. I raced through this book, and I’d be willing to bet you’ll do the same.Emblem Island is a fascinating location. I selfishly wished that Aster would have spent more time exploring the different cultures there, because it’s such a thrilling, vibrant place, but the book is paced so well and the descriptions are so vivid that it ultimately felt like the perfect amount of world-building. I’m eager for the next book, not only because I can’t wait to go back and learn more about the island, but also because the ending was so clever and so surprising that I’m going to be on pins and needles waiting to find out what happens next.The book’s nuanced look at the nature of stories (and at the motives of storytellers) is a delight, asking the reader to simultaneously think more critically and be more open-minded about folktales. Curse of the Night Witch is a rousing, spooky adventure that examines the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell others. It shows its readers that the world is more complicated and more amazing than we realize, and that you can always change your fate…but you may not like what happens when you do.
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  • Christi M
    January 1, 1970
    In The Curse of the Night Witch three kids go on an adventure to find the Night Witch and remove a curse.On Emblem Island, every individual has a mark on their wrist denoting a specific unique skill. Some marks identify what role you will have in society while others are skills that have a bit of a magical touch to them. Tor was born with the leadership emblem, but he’d much rather be able to breathe underwater. In the hopes that the wish-god can change his emblem, he submits this as a wish on E In The Curse of the Night Witch three kids go on an adventure to find the Night Witch and remove a curse.On Emblem Island, every individual has a mark on their wrist denoting a specific unique skill. Some marks identify what role you will have in society while others are skills that have a bit of a magical touch to them. Tor was born with the leadership emblem, but he’d much rather be able to breathe underwater. In the hopes that the wish-god can change his emblem, he submits this as a wish on Eve. But instead of a wish he receives a curse that could have only come from the Night Witch.Part of what makes this book unique is how the story is structured. Emblem Island is full of myths and lore and all the inhabitants grow up learning about these fairy tales in a book called The Book of Cuentos. As Tor and friends seek out the Night Witch the chapters and narrative follows the places that are mentioned in The Book of Cuentos and learn that these so-called fairy tales are a bit more real than expected. In between the chapters is a short version of the lore followed by a chapter specifically relating to that lore. This creates mini-stories, or stories within a story.The story is fast-paced in that no mini-story is longer than two chapters. This approach is perfect for young readers to help them feel a sense of accomplishment when finishing a mini-story. It also shows a lot of potential in where the series can go. As an adult, I wish these stories within a story had been a little longer so that I could settle in more to the story.All in all I enjoyed the lore and myths and the overall uniqueness of this island, especially in how color and emblems are used, and look forward to the next in the series.Thanks to Netgalley and SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.
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  • Kristel
    January 1, 1970
    *Netgalley arc*Very interesting magic system, solid introduction to a series, likeable characters only a little whiny so it was perfect, and a lot of adventure!!I love middle grade fantasy books because the characters are raw and genuine, they have just started to need independence and are ready for whatever life throws at them, even if it's a quest to go to the opposite side of the world to defeat a witch who cursed them.Tor, Melda, and Engle each has flaws, weaknesses, and strength, bringing s *Netgalley arc*Very interesting magic system, solid introduction to a series, likeable characters only a little whiny so it was perfect, and a lot of adventure!!I love middle grade fantasy books because the characters are raw and genuine, they have just started to need independence and are ready for whatever life throws at them, even if it's a quest to go to the opposite side of the world to defeat a witch who cursed them.Tor, Melda, and Engle each has flaws, weaknesses, and strength, bringing something that will see them victors. It won't be easy, they are 12 years old, first time away from home, facing all kinds of bad things! But they are lucky to stumble upon good people along their way and they will go back home different when the quest is over.This is a book about finding what you're good at, fighting what the world wants you to do with your life, not settling if you're not okay with it. Maybe it'll have horrible consequences, maybe not, but if you don't take a risk, how can you change a situation that's not good for you?Love love love how the author used latin america's myths to create the folklore this book is based on and the magic the people are born into and use in their everyday life. Being latin American myself (Ecuador here!), I love seeing these myths I didn't know about until now represented one way or the other!A great first book, a great start. Now I'm really curious to know what other adventures the trio will get to live in the future!
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  • JaxInABox
    January 1, 1970
    Aster's masterpiece describes Tor Luna's quest to understand the meaning of friendship, sacrifice, and leadership through an enchanted land filled with magic and color. Is it odd to find a 21 year old bookstore employee/engineering student reading a book for middle schoolers? It shouldnt be. I loved this adventure/coming-of-age story, even though I'm definitely not the target audience. Aster's world is unlike any I've ever encountered, filled with incredibly original concepts of magic, myths, an Aster's masterpiece describes Tor Luna's quest to understand the meaning of friendship, sacrifice, and leadership through an enchanted land filled with magic and color. Is it odd to find a 21 year old bookstore employee/engineering student reading a book for middle schoolers? It shouldnt be. I loved this adventure/coming-of-age story, even though I'm definitely not the target audience. Aster's world is unlike any I've ever encountered, filled with incredibly original concepts of magic, myths, and monsters. Her characters are dynamic, hilarious, and lovable, each with a unique personality and driven by their own special purpose. This story is full of twists you know are coming but have no idea which way they'll throw you. I admired her command of worldbuilding, constantly excited to see what new land and culture the characters would end up in next. I've never seen a magic system anywhere close to hers, and the way she weaves in exposition makes the reader feel like they already know the world well. Inspired by Latin American myths, the mythos of her story guides the three characters through a harrowing, exciting adventure that will definitely leave you wanting more.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Be careful what you wish for....On the island of Emblem, if you are lucky enough to be born with an Emblem, then you know your fate, and with that fate comes a special ability. But Tor Luna would do anything to change his fate, and rid himself of his markings indicating that he is destined for leadership. A hard enough thing to live up to as-is, but even more so when your mother is the village chief. But Tor has a pl I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Be careful what you wish for....On the island of Emblem, if you are lucky enough to be born with an Emblem, then you know your fate, and with that fate comes a special ability. But Tor Luna would do anything to change his fate, and rid himself of his markings indicating that he is destined for leadership. A hard enough thing to live up to as-is, but even more so when your mother is the village chief. But Tor has a plan to change everything. Every Eve, marking the end of a year, everyone over the age of 12 makes a Wish--which may or may not be granted by the Wish God. And, for years, Tor knew exactly what he would wish for: for a different Emblem. When he wakes up on the first day of the new year, he is horrified. He received a different marking, alright, but not at all what he asked for. Instead, he got a mark indicating that he is cursed.Now, along with his quirky best friend Engle and his frenemy Melda, Tor is off on an adventure across Emblem to seek out the Night Witch to rid himself of the curse. But there is something even more sinister that lies beneath the surface, and Tor's Wish is just the beginning.Set in an amazing Latin American inspired land where gemstones can be eaten, color means life, and stories have power, "Curse of the Night Witch" is a fantastic tale about what it means to choose your own fate. I'm eager to return to Emblem, to learn more about the lore of the island as well as what new adventures await Tor, Engle and Melda.
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  • Em Jay
    January 1, 1970
    Every time I close my eyes, I see the glowing jungle in this book. Color, monsters, and heart, all wrapped up into one glorious package. I ADORED the world of this book. Inspired by Latin American/Colombian mythology, readers are swept along on Tor's quest to undo a curse, across an island filled with untold wonder. We have puppeteer queens, frosty villages with magical snow, florescent forests, oceans full of mega creatures, and shadowy realms where nightmares dwell. Yes, all in one book. Inter Every time I close my eyes, I see the glowing jungle in this book. Color, monsters, and heart, all wrapped up into one glorious package. I ADORED the world of this book. Inspired by Latin American/Colombian mythology, readers are swept along on Tor's quest to undo a curse, across an island filled with untold wonder. We have puppeteer queens, frosty villages with magical snow, florescent forests, oceans full of mega creatures, and shadowy realms where nightmares dwell. Yes, all in one book. Interspersed with these scenes are beautiful extracts from stories-within-the-story, told with the lyricism of an ageless folktale. I loved seeing how these stories - and their monsters - connected the dots of Tor's quest.Really, the only reason why I couldn't give a full 5 stars were the characters. As much as I loved the trio (Tor, Engle, Melda) they seemed kinda like shadows of the whole Harry/Ron/Hermione dynamic. Engle especially felt like a caricature ("hungry" probably isn't the best personality), to the point where I grew tired of him. However, I did enjoy seeing Tor grow into his own as the novel progressed - and who doesn't like a badass smart girl? - so I'm hoping Engle gets similar growth as the series progresses. Overall, though, it's a big recommend from me! I think MG readers will absolutely eat this adventure up, and even adult readers should find something to love with the vivid world of Emblem Isle! I especially recommend it to classrooms/teachers who might be discussing the role of stories in everyday life. There's some amazing commentary on perception/choice in here. 4/5.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    This would make a wonderful tv series for children: the quest, the colors (or lack thereof), the people are all described so clearly that you can't help but feel as though you're there. In a more visual medium some of the problems with the book, like distances not quite making sense or the characters being rather flat. One of the best parts were the stories, chapters from their Book of Cuentos that help guide Tor, Melda and Engle as they hunt for the Night Witch. Will the next book be as visual This would make a wonderful tv series for children: the quest, the colors (or lack thereof), the people are all described so clearly that you can't help but feel as though you're there. In a more visual medium some of the problems with the book, like distances not quite making sense or the characters being rather flat. One of the best parts were the stories, chapters from their Book of Cuentos that help guide Tor, Melda and Engle as they hunt for the Night Witch. Will the next book be as visual or will it suffer from sophomore series slump? I can't wait to find out.ARC provided by publisher.
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  • Rosenda Rojas
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a masterpiece. It is magnificent to see fairytales based on some of the Hispanic stories I know and love represented in this children's book. I will be buying one for each of my grandchildren, as well as my family in Colombia.
  • Steve Koyasako
    January 1, 1970
    I won a free copy of this book from Sourcebooks in a Goodreads giveaway. I thought this was an impressive debut for this young author, inspired by Latin American folk tales. This looks to be a promising middle-grade children's fantasy series, with three delightful 12-year-old main characters.Set on a magical island in a mythical world: it's a pre-industrial culture where the people worship the old gods. The people are born with lifelines that dictate their lifespans and whether their life is eas I won a free copy of this book from Sourcebooks in a Goodreads giveaway. I thought this was an impressive debut for this young author, inspired by Latin American folk tales. This looks to be a promising middle-grade children's fantasy series, with three delightful 12-year-old main characters.Set on a magical island in a mythical world: it's a pre-industrial culture where the people worship the old gods. The people are born with lifelines that dictate their lifespans and whether their life is easy or hard. They (most of them, anyway) are also born with an emblem birthmark that preordains their role in life, as well as gives them powers or gifts appropriate to their station. A leader, for example, has charisma, the powers of persuasion, and public speaking abilities. But, as current events have shown, that doesn't mean that he or she is a good leader. The main protagonist, from whose POV the story is told, is born as a leader -- but he doesn't want to be one anymore; instead, he just wants to be able to breathe underwater. He is Tor Luna, the son of the current Chieftess of his village, also a born leader. Tor came across as a flawed and troubled boy, and in the end, that may be what saves him. But for me, he was the least likeable of the trio.Once a year, on New Year's Eve, the people of the island get a chance to make a wish that may or may not be granted by the wish gods. Tor's wish is to switch his leadership emblem for the water-breather emblem. In the morning, instead of the new emblem, he finds a curse mark (an evil eye): obviously the curse of the dreaded Night Witch of the island's book of spooky legends, The Book of Cuentos. His leadership mark is gone, and his lifeline has been cut drastically short. His two friends, Melda and Engle catch the curse by touching the evil eye, and their lives are cut short also, though their powers are not diminished. Melda, also a leader, is the daughter depended on by a struggling family. She is the most appealing of the trio to me, strong, yet human. Engle sometimes came across as comic relief with his constant preoccupation with food, and fills the role of the loyal buddy in this quest story. . . for the trio must go off to find the mythical Night Witch in a quixotic effort to somehow get the curses reversed before they are killed by them.You will like this book if you want a children's fantasy set in a non-Eurocentric setting, or with a Latin flavor.
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  • Bexa
    January 1, 1970
    Tor lives on Emblem Island, a wonderful place full of color, where everyone is born with a special emblem on themselves. These emblems provide the wearer with one unique skill, anywhere from cooking to bringing someone back from the dead. Tor's emblem is the leadership emblem, which means that after his mother has died or leaves her position as Chieftain he is expected to take over leadership of their village. There's just one problem, Tor doesn't want to be a leader. He doesn't have confidence Tor lives on Emblem Island, a wonderful place full of color, where everyone is born with a special emblem on themselves. These emblems provide the wearer with one unique skill, anywhere from cooking to bringing someone back from the dead. Tor's emblem is the leadership emblem, which means that after his mother has died or leaves her position as Chieftain he is expected to take over leadership of their village. There's just one problem, Tor doesn't want to be a leader. He doesn't have confidence in himself to lead the village, doesn't think he's smart enough, and doesn't think he can do the work. He makes the decision that on Eve's night, when the villagers are allowed to make a wish and if your pure of heart it will be granted, he wishes to be rid of the leadership emblem and instead be a water-breather. The morning after Eve, he wakes up and discovers that indeed his leadership emblem is gone, but instead of the water-breather symbol, there is an eye...that blinks... Realizing that he's been cursed, he teams up with his best friend, Engle, and his class rival, Melda, to go on an adventure and break the curse.Throughout the story you receive little bits of lore from the stories that have been told to them since they were very young (basically Brothers Grimm's tales, but Emblem Island edition). Many of these stories can seem familiar to people that have read a lot of legends (sirens/weeping woman/faceless man/giantess), but they are still well written and provide good background and direction for the story. As for the adventure aspect, it felt lacking. This could be a really good book for a middle schooler that likes adventure stories, but doesn't have the skill for reading longer adventure books. The chapters are short and each part of the adventure concludes at the end of the chapter. It would be a good book to read for classes or storytime because the issue of each chapter will get wrapped up before the next chapter starts and a new issue begins. The realization at the end seemed a little forced, and then the surprise that shows up, was just a little over the top and just too easy. It sets it up for the next book to come out and continue the kids' adventure. Overall a fun story perfect for a reluctant reader.Copy provided by NetGalley.
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  • Melanie Dulaney
    January 1, 1970
    "Curse of the Night Witch" is an excellent choice for middle grade, early YA readers who grab all the Rick Riordan and Riordan Presents books as soon as they arrive in the stores/libraries. Like the Aru Shah series and many of the Riordan Presents books, "Night Witch" is fantasy, filled with the myths and legends of people groups other than the more prolific Greek and Roman mythology. In this case, Alex Aster brings us stories/cuentos from South American/Latinx culture and tells them through the "Curse of the Night Witch" is an excellent choice for middle grade, early YA readers who grab all the Rick Riordan and Riordan Presents books as soon as they arrive in the stores/libraries. Like the Aru Shah series and many of the Riordan Presents books, "Night Witch" is fantasy, filled with the myths and legends of people groups other than the more prolific Greek and Roman mythology. In this case, Alex Aster brings us stories/cuentos from South American/Latinx culture and tells them through the adventures of Tor, Engle and Melda from the Island of Emblem where nearly everyone is born with a mark on their arm that indicates their special gift and likely career path. The trio were not looking for adventure, but because of Tor's discontent with his emblem of leadership and a wish-gone-bad to try and change it, the three end up being cursed and set out to reverse the spell by confronting the source of all curses and stories that scare small children, the powerful Night Witch. Aster's debut book clearly indicates that we have not see the last of our heroes or of her writing. She smoothly integrates their journey with legends of the island to create a book that is sure to keep strong 4th and 5th grade readers engaged and has enough depth to also appeal to 6th-8th graders who enjoy the genre. Parents and librarians will be pleased that the violence is appropriate to the adventure without resorting to superfluous blood and gore, and the book is free of any profanity or sexual content. Highly recommended.My thanks to Sourcebooks for including this one in the surprise box of ARCs received at my library in Spring 2020. Keep them coming!
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  • Alexandra Alessandri
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky for the review copy of Emblem Island: Curse of the Night Witch. Tor Luna does not want to be a leader like his mother, though that's exactly what his Emblem dictates is to be his fate. So on Eve, he makes a wish that will change his life--and his lifeline. While he is stripped of his Leadership Emblem, he is also cursed. To remove the curse, he embarks on a journey across Emblem Island with his friends, Engle and Melda, to find the fabled Nigh Thank you to Netgalley and SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky for the review copy of Emblem Island: Curse of the Night Witch. Tor Luna does not want to be a leader like his mother, though that's exactly what his Emblem dictates is to be his fate. So on Eve, he makes a wish that will change his life--and his lifeline. While he is stripped of his Leadership Emblem, he is also cursed. To remove the curse, he embarks on a journey across Emblem Island with his friends, Engle and Melda, to find the fabled Night Witch. "Worthy of every magical ounce"―Kirkus Reviews, starred review"Debut author Aster takes inspiration from Colombian folklore to craft a rousing series opener that's both fast-paced and thrilling. As her protagonists face off against a host of horrors, they learn the value of friendship and explore the possibility of changing one's fate in a world where destiny is predetermined."―Publishers Weekly, starred reviewI absolutely loved Aster's debut, and I know my 12yo son is going to devour it once it arrives. It has characters you want to root for, a fast-paced plot, Latinx mythology, and a magical—albeit sometimes dark—adventure. It tackles themes of friendship, sacrifice, and not letting fate define you. Also, as the daughter of Colombian immigrants who grew up hearing stories of legendary creatures like La Patasola, El Silbón, and others, I loved seeing how Aster wove these into unique monsters in The Book of Cuentos and in Emblem Island Curse of the Night Witch. .
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  • Leann Thompson
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC copy of this book!On Emblem Island everyone knows what they are destined to be and how long they will live due to the emblem they are born with. Tor however, feels that he was born with the wrong emblem and makes a wish on Eve to change his emblem to another power. The problem is, it wasn't the wish gods who granted his wish: The Night Witch has cursed him and time is running out for him to break the curse. With the help of his friends, Tor wi Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC copy of this book!On Emblem Island everyone knows what they are destined to be and how long they will live due to the emblem they are born with. Tor however, feels that he was born with the wrong emblem and makes a wish on Eve to change his emblem to another power. The problem is, it wasn't the wish gods who granted his wish: The Night Witch has cursed him and time is running out for him to break the curse. With the help of his friends, Tor will have to decipher the mythical stories passed down for generations and find the elusive Night Witch.This book has been a bit of a struggle for me to read, I find that it's not pulling on me to read when I am away from it. I really want to love it, but somehow it is not living up to my expectations and I can't quite put my finger on why. The story has lots of action, some very creepy scenes, enough magic to keep it interesting, and the characters are self-centered enough that you can slightly predict what is going to happen. The characters are enjoyable to read and are all strong and quirky in their own ways. I really love the myths that are interspersed throughout the story and they give a nice bit of foreshadowing. I know there are kids who love fantasy and adventure who will gobble this novel up.
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  • Dawn Stahl
    January 1, 1970
    A classic middle grade, trio-on-a-quest tale, Curse of the Night Witch is the first in a new series inspired by Latin American lore. It's situated in a beautifully built fantasy world and infused with a delicious and colorful inventiveness (literally: gemstone puddings and pie). Tor, his best friend Engle, and his school nemesis Melda use a book of terrifying legends as a map to discover the Night Witch and end the curse that links them to each other and to a fast-approaching death.The use of a A classic middle grade, trio-on-a-quest tale, Curse of the Night Witch is the first in a new series inspired by Latin American lore. It's situated in a beautifully built fantasy world and infused with a delicious and colorful inventiveness (literally: gemstone puddings and pie). Tor, his best friend Engle, and his school nemesis Melda use a book of terrifying legends as a map to discover the Night Witch and end the curse that links them to each other and to a fast-approaching death.The use of a few familiar tropes (this trio of friends feels very familiar, as does the choice/lesson/setup at the end) is offset by the breakneck pace of the adventure and the delightfully interesting world of the Emblemites. Including the legends throughout is also a great addition, and I found myself looking forward to each creative new "Once upon a…" tale ("Once upon a boiling cauldron, there was a cave." "Once upon a lilac dawn, there was a boy." "Once upon a family secret…")Content notes: fairytale peril and pain with some gruesome off-screen violence/horror and some magical physical trauma to our heroes. Also: strong female leaders throughout, matter-of-fact physical diversity, a variety of strengths and intelligences embraced
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  • Dontreadlikethem
    January 1, 1970
    Curse of the Night Witch reminds us that sometimes what we are running from is what we need. We can't see the value of something until it is threatened or taken away. For Tor Luna that "something" is his culture. He looks at his uneventful lifeline on his palm as a burden of boredom instead of reliable information. He looks at the emblem on his skin that determines his job and wishes it was anything else. Tor starts a journey with two friends to get away from his destiny only to realize all he i Curse of the Night Witch reminds us that sometimes what we are running from is what we need. We can't see the value of something until it is threatened or taken away. For Tor Luna that "something" is his culture. He looks at his uneventful lifeline on his palm as a burden of boredom instead of reliable information. He looks at the emblem on his skin that determines his job and wishes it was anything else. Tor starts a journey with two friends to get away from his destiny only to realize all he is doing is running towards it. Our identity is made from our culture and our family who came before us whether we acknowledge it or not. Each of these three characters are so different every child will be able to see a little bit of themselves in at least one of them. Their adventure leads to many different environments that show Tor the variety of cultures. Children ages 12 and up will enjoy this spooky story told through unparalleled imagery.
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  • Candice
    January 1, 1970
    Emblem Island is such a neat setting with a unique origin story. Tor and his friends realize that all the scary childhood stories in the Book of Cuentos are actually a roadmap to the witch. That’s my favorite part–the truth of humanity that hides in every fairytale emerges fully formed in this novel. Some terrifying like the faceless vanor to the peaceful descendants of the Giantess of Nar, sent by the wish-gods to protect humans. What makes this novel stand out is that each tale that prefaces t Emblem Island is such a neat setting with a unique origin story. Tor and his friends realize that all the scary childhood stories in the Book of Cuentos are actually a roadmap to the witch. That’s my favorite part–the truth of humanity that hides in every fairytale emerges fully formed in this novel. Some terrifying like the faceless vanor to the peaceful descendants of the Giantess of Nar, sent by the wish-gods to protect humans. What makes this novel stand out is that each tale that prefaces the chapters are inspired by the Latin American stories the author’s Colombian abuela would tell her as a child.Be careful what you wish for–the twists on this echoed throughout the book and it was interesting how it affected the plot. The ending was great. Everything felt resolved but it definitely leaves you anticipating the sequel. Character friendship dynamic arc was nicely done and Melda totally gave me Hermione-vibes.
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  • Serenity
    January 1, 1970
    *I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley*This was a very interesting fantasy, with a unique system of magic (although I don't think that word is used at all in the book). The characters grew on me throughout the story, though Engle was a bit flat. It ended on a total cliffhanger, so if you purchase this book for your library, be ready for readers to ask for the sequel. I liked this story, and I would be interested to read the sequel. If you have fantasy readers w *I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley*This was a very interesting fantasy, with a unique system of magic (although I don't think that word is used at all in the book). The characters grew on me throughout the story, though Engle was a bit flat. It ended on a total cliffhanger, so if you purchase this book for your library, be ready for readers to ask for the sequel. I liked this story, and I would be interested to read the sequel. If you have fantasy readers who are looking for something a bit different, this might be a good fit. I thought at the beginning that it might really skew towards younger readers (maybe 3rd grade) because of the writing style, but it seemed to become a bit more complex as the book progressed, and I think some of the darker elements will make it appealing to upper elementary and maybe early middle school.
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  • Kathie
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book.This is a book based on the author's Colombian heritage, and the stories that her abuela used to tell her. Set in the fantastical world of Emblem Island, it's an adventure that will appeal to kids who love a quest to right a wrongdoing, where the stakes are life or death.Tor Luna, like his mother before him, is destined to be a leader. He was born with the leadership emblem marked on his skin, but it's not the destiny he wants. On Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book.This is a book based on the author's Colombian heritage, and the stories that her abuela used to tell her. Set in the fantastical world of Emblem Island, it's an adventure that will appeal to kids who love a quest to right a wrongdoing, where the stakes are life or death.Tor Luna, like his mother before him, is destined to be a leader. He was born with the leadership emblem marked on his skin, but it's not the destiny he wants. On a special New Year's Eve ceremony, he wishes for a different mark, but instead, receives a curse that leaves him with one week left to live. Tor Luna and his friends must travel to find the Night Witch and have the curse removed before time runs out. Along the way they meet monsters, beasts, and encounter challenges that require cunning and bravery. I would recommend Curse of the Night Witch to kids who like the Rick Riordan Presents books, stories based on cultures that we too seldom see represented in middle grade fiction. The story is fast-paced, the stakes are high, and characters use their individual strengths to face the challenges before them. This is the first book in the series, and I look forward to reading more from this author.
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  • Mercedes
    January 1, 1970
    This was quite the adventure! Tor, Engle, and Melda set out on an epic journey across the Isle of Emblem to undo a curse that Tor has accidentally brought upon the three of them. In their travels, they happen upon all kinds of new places and creatures and learn quite a bit about themselves. This is a wild coming of age story about learning to b happy with ourselves and the with the cards life has dealt us.The story ends on a cliffhanger setting up a whole new journey/adventure for our threesome This was quite the adventure! Tor, Engle, and Melda set out on an epic journey across the Isle of Emblem to undo a curse that Tor has accidentally brought upon the three of them. In their travels, they happen upon all kinds of new places and creatures and learn quite a bit about themselves. This is a wild coming of age story about learning to b happy with ourselves and the with the cards life has dealt us.The story ends on a cliffhanger setting up a whole new journey/adventure for our threesome in the next book. I look forward to reading it and seeing where the Isle of Emblem and fate takes them next.
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