Thursday, December 1, 2022

A Leap Into Darkness Review #rabtbooktours

Fantasy Adventure, Animals, Family, Middle Grade (ages 10+)

Date Published: 10-28-2022

Publisher: Beasts at the Feast Press

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A Readers' Favorite 5-star review recipient

Magic stirs and a little dog speaks: the kingdom will fall. But will humans listen?

Jake is a fluffy little dog who just happens to be one of the Sculptor's "wise

ones" . . . but nobody's told him. He's certain he's ordinary, and he knows he doesn't deserve living in a rags to riches fairy tale where he’s been rescued from his hardscrabble life by the King of Gorseland and pampered and loved by his two royal children, Janice and James.

But the good life is threatened with the arrival of the sorcerer, Beezeldorn, and his raven. Beezeldorn is a seeming charlatan: a crowd-pleaser with his sleight-of-hand and cheap spectacle. But his power from dark magic runs deep, on display in town when he heals a leper.

The queen senses the danger and pays for her instincts with her life.

Jake knows something is wrong, but what can he do? Beezeldorn is always one step ahead, moving into the castle, earning the king’s confidence, and befriending James. Even Janice is drawn to him.

Now it's up to Jake to protect his family . . . before it's too late . . . for the king . . . and his kingdom.

Perfect for fans of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia.


A silent, shrouded figure, her head wrapped in tattered strips of linen, stood before him.

Jake could hear Nigel whimpering and Maisie hissing. Jake shivered, but kept his head lifted up, keeping a resolute gaze on the stranger’s thin eye slits.

You’re lost,” the figure said, gesturing to the tunnel near the little dog. “Choose that path and you choose the side of the weak.”

The figure peeled back the wrappings from its head. “Look at what he has done for me.”

Jake’s mouth dropped; he was staring up at the woman from town . . . the leper who had been healed and transformed by Beezeldorn into this creature of absolute beauty shimmering before him.

Let me show you the source of that power,” she said.

The other animals gasped in awe as they inched closer to her.

The woman cast a radiant smile down at Jake and then turned and walked away, toward an upward curving tunnel on the opposite wall. Nigel and Winston eagerly followed after her, their backsides shaking and wagging joyfully like little pups. Vincent hesitated and then tracked after them. Maisie remained seated and looked back and forth from Jake to the small parade moving away from them.

Jake growled and sprang forward, barking. “She lies!”

Free use image by Clker Free Vector Images

Rating: Five of Five Stars

I am not usually a fast reader, but I finished this story in a day. Jake is a lovable protagonist who is up against a problem much bigger than he is. After all, he's just a little dog, and Beezeldorn is a powerful sorcerer whose magic has thrown the kingdom into turmoil. The queen is dead, and the king is sleeping his life away. The prince is under Beezeldorn's sway, and the once-kind princess who used to listen to Jake is now surly and finds him a nuisance. 

The story has a lively pace, not dwelling too long on minute detail. Conversely, there are many plot twists, however, the author skillfully leads the reader through them. While the book is categorized as middle-grade fantasy, I feel it will appeal to readers of any age who enjoy stories filled with magic and talking animals. 

Jake is a delightful little hero. Because he seems insignificant, he can gather useful information without attracting attention. Anyone who has ever felt as if their concerns aren't being taken seriously will relate to Jake. 

From character creation to world-building to the pacing of the story, the author has done an exemplary job. A Leap Into Darkness is a must-read for fantasy fans.

About the Author

Ray Petrolino is an award-winning screenwriter and author.

He lives in North Carolina with his wife and family and their dog Jake (not just any dog, but a talking bichon with an unfulfilled set of demands).

When Ray is not writing, he's listening to his dog (and sometimes his wife); or he can be found working on film sets, playing drums at his house, or playing drums at someone else's house.

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