Otherworld Chronicles: The Invisible Tower,
by Nils Johnson-Shelton; HarperCollins:
New York, 2012; $16.99
Nils Johnson-Shelton’s The Invisible Tower brings the legend of King Arthur and his sorcerer, Merlin, into the modern world through fantasy adventure. This book has all the connections necessary to keep the interest of its readers: video games, dragon slaying, acts of valor, a great relationship between a brother and sister, and mystical creatures.
The main characters, Arty and his sister, Kay, embark on adventures in a video-game world called the Otherworld. The Xbox games Arty and Kay play make an easy connection for those readers who are gamers themselves. If Otherworld were a real video game, I’d love to try its full 3D version, and I’m sure it would be a top seller as it’s packed with adventure. It might even top my favorites, Ghost Recon and Call of Duty.
In the adventures, Arty learns his fate is intertwined with that of Merlin, King Arthur, and the Otherworld. When faced with the challenge to free Merlin and the Otherworld, Arty and Kay hesitate, only to be warned by Merlin that their denial will result in Merlin remaining imprisoned, Earth and the Otherworld would be destroyed, and both Arty and Kay never knowing their true destiny. Arty and Kay are scared because of the intensity of the challenge but bravely accept it. In that situation, I would be scared also but I would like to think that I would willingly accept the call.
Arty and Kay have the kind of relationship every brother and sister should have. They are always willing to help each other out in any situation and share an uncanny connection. For example, Kay tries to sneak up on Arty and Arty always knows she is there before she can scare him. I have a similar but different connection with my sister. I love to scare her. The difference is that she never knows I’m there! My sister and I do have that bond though. Even though we have our differences, we’d do anything for one another. Arty and Kay’s bond reminded me of that of the Knights of the Round Table. Their bond is necessary for their success as they come up against the numerous monsters of the Otherworld.
The author’s use of unique characters helps keep the reader’s interest. Unusual creatures, such as mini-dragons, as well as a girl who appears young but is actually very old, appear in Arty’s quests throughout the Otherworld. Some of the characters assist Arty in his adventures. Mr. Thumb, a thumb-sized man who is one of Merlin’s good friends and servants, is a constant companion for Arty on his adventures, serving as a guide to the Otherworld. A large green dragon with red ruby teeth, curled golden horns, and black eyes with rainbow-colored pupils shaped like a cat’s plays the role of Arty’s greatest combatant, awakening in him abilities he didn’t realize he had.
This book is comparable to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series in that it uses mythological monsters who fight for good and evil. However, in my opinion, the Percy Jackson series was more interesting because the action and mysteries were more intense and detailed, making it harder to set down. That said, I would still recommend The Invisible Tower as it was easy to read and an interesting story. It also creates a desire to learn more about King Arthur for those readers who might not be familiar with the legend.