The Lost Rainforest: Mez’s Magic, Reviewed by Julius Ugo, 11

Book Reviews  /   /  By Sarah Ainsworth
Stone Soup Magazine
November 2018

Unceasing darkness. Eternal light. Both? Not possible without serious repercussions. “What, then, will happen…to those animals…born during the eclipse?”

Mez’s Magic is set in the otherworldly rainforest of Caldera, an alternate reality divided between daywalkers and nightwalkers. All animals naturally fall into one of the two groups, or veils, based on their species. Only the ants walk between veils. And the animals born during the eclipse. A young panther named Mez is one of these “eclipse born”. These “unnaturals” are able to go between groups. They are blessed (or cursed) with special powers, enabling them to see and do things that regular animals can’t.

Mez is an older sibling to her sister, Chumba, and she is motivated throughout the entire story by a desire to protect her little sister from harm. While she generally does an excellent job of this, eventually, Chumba is happiest protecting herself.

I have an older sister who similarly looks out for me. But like Chumba, near the end of the book, I too prefer it when I sometimes have the opportunity to “fight my own battles”. And though I am a younger sibling, like Chumba, I sometimes even help my older sister out with hers. I think that is one of the most important parts of a sibling relationship. Figuring out when it’s your turn to give the support, or to get it.

Throughout the story, I also came to appreciate the strong sense of loyalty that made up a dominant part of Mez’s character. She pushes herself as hard as necessary in hopes of saving the other eclipse-born animals and all of Caldera itself from the evil Ant Queen’s destructive power.

Caldera is a world that is cosmetically very different from mine. While I live in
flashy downtown Toronto, surrounded by light pollution, sometimes the rainforest of Caldera gets so dark that you can’t even see directly in front of you, and animals use other senses to navigate their surroundings. I come home to a hot meal made by my mom, while Mez’s whole family relies on each other for hunting help in order to eat and survive. But these unfamiliar elements, along with the more relatable ones, combine perfectly to create an interesting experience that would not be possible if the whole world of Caldera was exactly like my own.

Throughout the entire book, author Eliot Schrefer mixes a shimmering rainforest setting with intriguing characters until the reader can’t help but be inspired by what the rainforest has to offer. But once the magic power component of the eclipse penetrates the plot and characters start betraying each other, the story changes from a gently moving animal fable to a fast-paced adventure that leaves you dying for more. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an engaging animal story, spiced up with magic, and heartwarming sibling relationships. It’s about looking beyond the superficial, finding friends in unexpected places, and working together to defeat some really bad ants. Enjoy!

The Lost Rainforest: Mez’s Magic by Eliot Schrefer. Harper Collins, 2017.  Buy the book here and support Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup in the process!

Have you read this book? Or do you plan on reading it? If so, comment below!

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