Book Title: Caroline & Mordecai the Gand by Jeff Gunhus
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 186 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Literary
Publisher: Seven Guns Press
Release date: March 31, 2021
Content Rating: PG: The language is G. There is one scene with the main character punches a bully resulting in a bloody nose. The emotional treatment of grief and the death of a loved one can be somewhat intense.
This novella was written by USA Today bestselling author Jeff Gunhus after he received a devastating diagnosis of state 3 cancer. The story is a message to his five children on how to deal with grief and a plea for them to grasp onto joy and love even in the darkest of times.
Caroline loses her spark. It takes a great adventure for her to find it again.
Caroline loses her father in a car accident for which she feels responsible. Consumed by grief, she has a difficult time readjusting to a world that has changed so dramatically for her. On the anniversary of her father’s death, a strange window opens in the middle of the small lake behind her house. She climbs up an old oak to peer inside, but falls out of the tree and discovers that the window also serves as a door into a different world.
Enter Mordecai the Gand, a mysterious traveler who befriends Caroline and promises to help her find a way back home since the window she fell through has disappeared. The two set out on a series of adventures that include visiting a tree village populated by a tribe known for eating travelers, running into a witch under a spell of her own making, hiding in a cave with a dragon encased in a wall of ice (prone to melting by campfire), all the while being pursued by a mysterious entity call the Creach which promises to devour Caroline and trap her in an eternity of despair.
As they navigate these adventures and this new world, Caroline slowly discovers that she is meant to help each of the characters she meets. As she battles internally whether to stay or return home to the sadness and grief waiting for her there, she must regain perspective and open her heart to the act of caring and to the joy of love itself. In the end, she must demonstrate great courage, loyalty, and caring as the plot unfolds, becoming the active hero of her own story.
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I chose to listen to this book after receiving a free audio copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.
I have read all of the Jack Templar books by Jeff Gunhus and have always enjoyed his writing so I was looking forward to listening to this book. Just like the Jack Templar books, it is written for middle grade and/or young adult readers, but it’s a story that readers of all ages will like.
Caroline lost her father when she was 13 years old. They were very close and it was devastating, especially since she blamed herself for his death. When she ends up in another world and meets Mordecai the Gand, she goes on an emotional journey with him and learns some important lessons about loss, grief, and hope.
Caroline meets some quirky characters along the way. Mordecai is quirky enough but then there is the tribe that lives in the trees whose people like to eat travelers, the terrifying Creach, and a dragon that started out being frozen in ice…
The narrator, Sarah L. Colton, has a great voice for telling a story. Her timing and pace are also excellent. I hope to listen to more stories that she narrates.
If you’ve experience a recent loss, or even if you haven’t, Caroline and Mordecai the Gand is a book that is full of sadness and grief but is still an adventure that is fun at times and is full of hope. I am thankful that Jeff Gunhus decided to share this book that was originally meant as a private story for his children when he was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.
“Readers of all ages who look for ethereal, haunting stories of recovery and courage will find Caroline & Mordecai the Gand may hold the trappings of a fantasy adventure; but inside there is so much more. Make the right decision, to read this!” – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“Caroline’s story is profoundly sad, and yet hopeful, magical, and yet rooted in reality. There is magic, mystery, and daring adventure.”– BooksCoffee
About the Author
Jeff Gunhus is the USA TODAY bestselling author of thriller and horror novels for adults and the middle grade fantasy series, The Jack Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year-old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 30 on Amazon, have been recognized as Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists and reached the USA TODAY bestseller list.
Jeff wrote Caroline & Mordecai the Gand after receiving a devastating diagnosis of stage 3 cancer. The novella was meant as a private story for his five children on how to face grief by holding onto joy and love. He leads an active life in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of Old Fox Books in Annapolis working on his next novel or on JeffGunhus.com.
connect with the author: website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads ~ bookbub
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