February 14, 2022

The Other Merlin (Emry Merlin #1) by Robyn Schneider

The Other Merlin (Emry Merlin #1) by Robyn Schneider
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: September 20, 2021
Format: Hardcover + Audiobook
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers


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The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider is a hilarious, adventure-packed, magical fantasy adventure. One of my favorite shows of all time is Merlin (with Colin Morgan and Bradley James). This book would be perfect for anyone who also loves that show. I’m excited that the book stays true to the heart of Arthurian legend while demonstrating innovation and fun with the canon details it does change. 


The book reminded me a lot of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness or Mulan. It was so hilarious to see all the struggles Emry faced in pretending she was her brother Emmett. Emry’s struggles reminded me a lot of Alanna’s struggles in the twin swap and the royal love interest. I was cackling when Emry hightailed it out of the room once everyone started dropping their drawers to use the chamber pot - I could easily imagine the blush and awkward, nervous look on her face.   


The characters were very likable and easy to connect to. Emry was a hilarious and courageous character. While Arthur was not a “warrior” in the usual sense, he was filled with quiet determination and fierce loyalty. His strength is not something built with a foundation in intimidation and fear, and I appreciated that. The loyalty he shows to others is easily returned, and I think kings who rule through loyalty rather than fear are the best kind of rulers. Arthur’s journey to overcome his self-doubt over the course of the trilogy will be quite a sight to see. For those who are looking for a book with a more diverse cast of characters, the main character (Emry) is bisexual and there are quite a few gay, bisexual and queer characters. The banter between Lance and Emry (especially Emry learned Lance was gay, and he learned Emry was bi) left me snickering - I adore their friendship. Fingers crossed Lance finds his person in the next book! 


The narrator Rosie Jones did a fantastic job with the performance. I went through a whole range of emotions while listening. Ms. Jones really brought the book to life and gave it another depth that wouldn’t have been possible with simply reading it in print. 


Overall, an entertaining and humorous read. I would happily recommend it to young adult fantasy readers and those who enjoy very compelling character-driven stories.  I’m eager to get my grabby hands on the next book in the Emry Merlin trilogy as soon as possible to find out what happens next. 


About the Author
Robyn Schneider grew up in Southern California, where she spent her childhood reading fantasy novels and searching for secret passages. She’s a graduate of Columbia University, where she studied creative writing, and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, where she earned a Masters of Bioethics. Robyn is the bestselling author of The Beginning of Everything, Extraordinary Means, Invisible Ghosts, and You Don’t Live Here. Her work is available across the world in over a dozen languages. Her newest novel, The Other Merlin, will be published in September 2021. She lives in Los Angeles with her TV producer husband, their tiny puppy, and far too many books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @robynschneider


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