Books Reviewed by CKT

Ash Rover: Keeper of the Phoenix written by Aleesah Darlison & Illustrated by Nicole Onslow

Published by Walker Books

Aleesah Darlison introduces us to Ash Rover in her new chapter book, Ash Rover: Keeper of the Phoenix.

Icamore, a tiny isolated hamlet on the banks of Baydoria River is a bustling little village under the rulership of Lord and Lady Belgrave. Lord Belgrave does not tolerate magic within the village and banishes all who believe and practise it.

Ash Rover is bored with his cow herding responsibilities and wants to do something important. An impromptu nap during herding finds Ash being struck in the head mid dream with a strange looking rock. The rock which generates warmth is instantly discarded onto a pile of manure by his mother who is more concerned about Ash falling behind in his chores.

With his father and brother Duncan fighting the Draygonians at the border of Krell, Ash must work with his mother to ensure not only they survive but also their farm until his father returns.

On his way to the local market to hawk his mother’s blackberry pies and jam, Ash retrieves the rock convinced it is more than a pretty stone.

At the market Ash encounters his menacing cousin, Morgan who is tormenting twins Rhyll and Taine Piggins about their banished mother. A quick distraction by Ash allows Rhyll to get the upper hand with a bucket of slops leaving Morgan and his minions seething and filthy.

The trio take refuge in an abandoned cottage where they soon discover the rock is in fact, not a rock. As the sunshine warms the rock something magical happens and before their eyes the rock spins, radiates colour and grows before hatching to reveal a baby bird, a Phoenix.

Before long, news travels and the trio find themselves, along with the Phoenix Gwaam, summoned before Lady Belgrave.

Anxious to find her husband, Lord Belgrave who along with Ash’s father, brother and most of the men of Icamore are fighting the war on the outskirts of Krell. Lady Belgrave bestows a great responsibility on the trio, knowing of Gwaam’s immense magical powers.

Could this be the adventure Ash was looking for?

A black snow delivered by Wizard Zadoc’s gargoyles blankets the village, leaving the survival of the entire village in the trio’s hands. Ash, Rhyll, Taine and Ash’s four legged companion Trip, set off under the guidance of Gwaam, who just happens to hold the key to Wizard Zadoc’s existence.

Faced with mythical creatures, fire breathing reptiles, giant arachnids and only seven days to save their village, can Ash and his friends complete the quest?

Aleesah alludes to book two on the final page, which personally I can’t wait.

See ya, I’m off to the bookstore to camp out for book two.

This is a perfect page turning book which promises to continue to be a hypnotic fantasy, action adventure series.

Ideal for the reluctant reader, Aleesah’s wit and skill in weaving these characters into a unique plot is testament to her talents as an author. Every adolescent is faced with questions and self-doubt and Aleesah addresses them eloquently.

Reviewed by Georgie Donaghey
CKT Book Reviewer

Author: Aleesah Darlison
Illustrator: Nicole Onslow
Title: Ash Rover: Keeper of the Phoenix
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
ISBN: 9781922179029 (paperback)
Release Date: February 2014
Ages: 8+

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