June 30, 2023

REVIEW A Breath of Mischief by MarcyKate Connolly

A Breath of Mischief by MarcyKate Connolly
Rating: 3 Stars
Release Date: April 4, 2023
Format: Audiobook (Borrowed from Library) + eARC (NetGalley)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers 

The cover of MarcyKate Connolly’s book A Breath of Mischief is what initially drew me to the story, and it really encompasses the feel of the book. A low stakes children's fantasy, it’s a sweet yet entertaining book that delivers exactly what’s promised in the synopsis. 

Aria is a windling, adopted by the Wind and living in their castle with her young gryphiling (a.k.a. gryphon) companion Gwyn. She loves soaring through the clouds and interacting with all the other castle inhabitants. But one day when Wind goes missing (and her powers with it), Aria and Gwyn go looking for them and discover them in a cage. Striking a deal with their captor, Aria and Gwyn agree to complete three quests in exchange for Wind’s freedom - but will their word hold true, and will all of Aria and Gwyn’s efforts be for nought? 

The worldbuilding of this story is really cool. I really enjoyed the idea of non-gendered sentient elements (Water, Fire, Wind, and Earth) and the ‘otherlings’ who they have adopted. These children all have companions, and they work to help their parental figures maintain the natural balance. For example, Terran, the adopted child of the Earth, regularly leaves dead branches and wood close to human civilizations so they won’t be tempted to come into the forest and cut down healthy living trees. I did notice how Aria’s journey emphasizes the negative effects of manipulating natural resources in the name of money and power. That was one of the biggest themes of the book, and the one that I think has the most potential to affect potential readers. 

Some reviews mark this book as middle-grade, but I would actually mark the intended audience as young elementary school aged children. The length, for one, is much shorter than the average middle-grade novel. Nothing ever felt urgent over the course of the book; I wanted to feel the impetus and the determination when Aria and Gwyn were completing their challenges. I didn’t, sadly; any danger and happenings in the book left me feeling disconnected as a reader as opposed to invested in the story. I also wanted to see some actual difficulty in the challenges that they are facing, but Aria completed each task in front of her with surprising ease despite refusing help (even when it would have been sensible to ask for it). 

Overall, A Breath of Mischief was a quick and easy fantasy read. Narrator Melissa Czyz added to the light-hearted whimsical tone of the book with her performance in the audiobook narration. Despite some of the faults I noticed, I would still recommend it to young elementary aged readers. I’m unsure if this is intended to be standalone or part of a series (I would lean towards standalone), but I think the ending allows for options either way.  

Thank you to the author, the publisher Sourcebook Young Readers, and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary review copy of A Breath of Mischief. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review the book immensely! Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed the book. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way. 

About the Book
Brimming with danger and magic, this new fantasy adventure from acclaimed author MarcyKate Connolly will leave readers breathless as Aria discovers the strength of her courage―and the power of friendship.

Aria is raised by the Wind. She grew up in a castle, floating among the clouds with creatures of the air. She spends her days racing and soaring through the sky with her best friend, Gwyn, a young gryphling. At night, she falls asleep to the music of the Wind.

One morning, Aria is woken by a frantic Gwyn. The chimes are silent, there is not a breath of breeze, and their castle has settled on the ground. The Wind has vanished.

Aria and Gwyn go on a desperate search only to discover the Wind is being held captive by a sinister alchemist named Worton. To free the Wind, Aria and Gwyn must complete a series of trials to find and retrieve three magical talismans for Worton.

Nothing will keep Aria from rescuing the element who raised her―not a riddle, not a quest, not a race against time. Except Worton can't be trusted, and it's not just the Wind that needs saving...

About the Author
MarcyKate Connolly is a New York Times bestselling children’s book author who lives in New England with her family and short-nosed dogs. She graduated from Hampshire College (a magical place where they don’t give you grades) where she wrote an opera sequel to Hamlet as the equivalent of a senior thesis. It was also there that she first fell in love with plotting and has been dreaming up new ways to make life difficult for her characters ever since. 

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