The third installment of The Journey Beyond series, Seven Values of the Kingdom is a middle-grade fantasy story. Brother and sister Raphael and Haniel travel through a sequence of symbolic geodes accompanied by their awkward, insecure friend Frogeye, and their companions—a hilarious talking tree, a mystical wolf, a regal white horse, and an owl. At each geode they learn important personal lessons tailored for them as their journey to understand the universe continues. I gradually fell in love with the story and characters, until the climactic end with the rebuilding of the castle filled me with deep satisfaction. As an adult reader, I see how much this story would appeal to children, but the themes and ideas would make many adults feel equally at home.
Cheryl A. Matsen-Nieves has a poetic, visionary quality as an author, and The Journey Beyond uses the simplest language to depict deep themes in a really special way. The imagery is thoughtful and quietly beautiful. Each “stone” the characters travel through—stones are portals to the next step of their quest—was individualized and lovely, and the geodes were all different colors with different properties. I loved the pictures of actual gemstones that accompanied the descriptions. Reading Seven Values of the Kingdom was like an imaginative extrapolation of real life, envisioning walking through different jewels. Frogeye’s conclusion surprised me, but I was very pleased with it. This is the kind of book parents should be giving their kids. Recommended for anyone who likes middle-grade fantasy with a wholesome message.
This is the companion for Sarah Scheele's newsletter blog. In it I share reviews for books I'd recommend/are similar to my own.