Book Review: The Golden Fountain by Zuheb Alep

*I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I’m leaving a voluntary review*

The Golden Fountain follows a young boy named Benjamin on his strange and magical journey through the kingdom of Aradia. After saving Prince Adam’s life, the two boys quickly become friends, and are both caught up in a huge conspiracy involving missing children, war in distant lands, and a magical fountain.

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This is the kind of book that proves the value of a good cover. Would you look at that beauty? It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? And I say that now, because I didn’t really like the book. As it happens, I nearly didn’t finish it, which is rare for me.

The premise of the story is great, and the world it unfolds in is vivid and magical, enough to grip any young reader.

But the way it’s done breaks it for me. The writing is often basic, and near childish. At the same time the intricate plot lines seem too disconnected from each other, so much so that it was difficult to understand what was going on.

And there were small details that constantly broke the immersion for me. For example, a load of children were kidnapped an evening. I can’t remember the exact number, but it was in the hundreds. At first I assumed they’d be magically whisked away, until it was revealed they were all kidnapped – in a van. Hundreds of kids in one van in one night?

And then there’s the world building. In one sense, there is none, you’re just trust into everything. There’s no explanation, no creation myth or anything that explains anything. But remember how I said we were in the kingdom of Aradia? Well there’s also the Kingdom of Brytannia, Scotlandia, Egpytia – you get the gist. It’s our world with extra letters, but at the same time, we’re in another galaxy. There are also a tribe elephants, a tribe of lions, there are Spartans, there’s a country of polar bears… I could go on.

I’m going to assume this book is MG, which might be why it’s difficult for me to read review. It’s a bit easy, childish like I mentioned above. Which would have been fine, but I don’t think a middlegrader would’ve been able to grasp this. To get the intricate story, to follow who the characters are and what they’re doing. There’s also scenes of war, death, and torture, which I’m not sure any MG should read about.

I want to come back, full circle, to what I said to begin with. There’s a great story here, an amazing plot. It’s just all the bits in between that ruin it for me.

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