Title: The Gauntlet Author: Karuna Riazi Genre: Fantasy Series: The Gauntlet #1
Blurb It doesn’t look dangerous, exactly. When twelve-year-old Farah first lays eyes on the old-fashioned board game, she thinks it looks . . . elegant.
It is made of wood, etched with exquisite images–a palace with domes and turrets, latticework windows that cast eerie shadows, a large spider–and at the very center of its cover, in broad letters, is written THE GAUNTLET OF BLOOD AND SAND.
The Gauntlet is more than a game, though. It is the most ancient, the most dangerous kind of magic. It holds worlds within worlds. And it takes players as prisoners.
What I Liked This book’s description got me excited right away. I’ve traveled to the Middle East and the architecture is gorgeous. Having that aesthetic be the main focus of a fantasy novel? Yes please! The peeks into Islam and Bangladeshi culture are informative and eye-opening without being confusing for a reader not at all familiar with either one.
What I Would Have Liked to See There wasn’t much I felt I was missing. Some little stuff here and there: Farah’s two friends aren’t immediately likable, some of the gameplay descriptions are a tiny bit confusing, and the ultimate villain kind of comes out of nowhere.
My Favorite! There are rich descriptions of food and drinks that will make you stop and Google them and then drool over them for a few minutes. I’d like to do another reading of this book with plates of the included treats so I can eat them as they’re mentioned in the text!
TL;DR Close siblings, best friends, portal fantasy. This is an excellent read for kids 8-12 who are looking for a desert-themed, puzzle adventure story!