In a category of fiction saturated with dystopian societies and dark villains, The League and the Lantern is nothing short of refreshing. This story takes young readers on a unique adventure filled with lighthearted humor combined with all the twists and turns that make for an exceptional mystery. Written by Brian Wells, the novel unfolds as the genesis of a series akin to the likes of Percy Jackson.
The adventure follows the awkward, yet likeable middle schooler, Jake Herndon. Readers are introduced to Jake on the cusp of an uber embarrassing moment as the “new kid” at a school for exceptionally bright students. He overcomes a pattern of embarrassing situations to befriend two other “new kids”. Together, the trio embark on an unforgettable scavenger hunt that takes them on the quest of a lifetime. By the end of the novel, Jake has unlocked the key to a secret hidden for centuries.
It all begins with an infamous hat and and pair of gloves.
Wells definitely succeeds at creating a compelling story that piques the interest of young readers, with several bonuses:
- Throughout the story, Jake and his friends explore events surrounding the Civil War era. Wells makes history interesting by including surprising, little known facts about well-known people and events.
- The solid themes of friendship, trust, and courage are celebrated and woven into plot as Wells portrays characters who are unique, diverse, and unfazed by social pressures to fit in.
- Wells masterfully employs high-level vocabulary without making the language of the novel too dense.
- There is no supernatural or paranormal content involved- just a good, clean, informative, and engaging read.
As a realistic fiction novel, there are a few moments that may cause the reader to question the viability of some character’s decisions. These moments may detour adult readers more so than the novel’s intended preteen audience.
Overall, League and the Lantern is a “win” for both Wells, young readers, and families searching for well-written literature that is fun to read. The novel leaves readers eager to follow Jake and his friends on new adventures as they uncover more of history’s best-kept secrets.