Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In this lively first book in the Elementals trilogy, orphaned twins who have grown up as street thieves are separated for the first time when their shapeshifting abilities manifest. Twelve-year-old Anders becomes an ice wolf, and his sister, Rayna, transforms into a scorch dragon-a traditional enemy of the wolves. After Rayna is stolen away by other dragons for their own purposes, Anders is invited to attend the Ulfar Academy, a school dedicated to training ice wolves to guard their land against dragon attacks. Anders just wants to learn enough to locate and rescue his sister, but the more he bonds with his new friends and delves into his special abilities, the more he wonders if there's something else to the conflict between ice and fire. In her first solo novel, Kaufman (Unearthed) conjures an intriguing world with memorable, diverse characters. Although the backstory isn't entirely fleshed out, and some of the twists are predictable, the premise is solid, backed up by an enticing blend of magic, action, and excitement. Ages 8-12. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-6-Anders and his twin sister Rayna could not be any different. Rayna is quick and confident. Anders always seems to make mistakes and needs Rayna far more than she needs him. But when the twins must participate in a magical selection ceremony to keep from being discovered as pickpockets, things take a dramatic turn. Ice Wolves and Scorch Dragons are enemies and no family in remembrance has produced one of each, until now. When Rayna turns into a dragon and Anders turns into a wolf, they separate for the first time. Growing in confidence at the Ulfar Academy, Anders and his friend set out to reunite with his sister and discover why the magical artifacts that protect the people of Vallen and help control the powers of ice and fire are failing. This story of magic and mystery is hindered by a slow pace and an unsatisfying resolution. The first of a planned trilogy, the tale begins with a bang and ends with a bit of a whimper. Characters are interesting but not explored to their full potential. VERDICT A slow start for a long journey. Consider as a secondary purchase where fantasy with animal elements circulates well.-Elizabeth Speer, Weatherford College, TX © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Orphan twins Anders and Rayna question their shared parentage when a routine pickpocket run lands them both in the public trials for admission into Ulfar Academy, training center for Vallen's Wolf Guard those with the rare ability to transform into ice wolves and defend the land from deadly dragonfire. Both unexpectedly transform: Anders into an ice wolf, and his twin, impossibly, into a scorch dragon, anathema to the wolves. As Rayna is seemingly kidnapped by dragons, Anders realizes the way to his sister is through Ulfar and their technology artifacts, and it must be before the wolves declare war on the dragons. Kaufman, coauthor of the Starbound Trilogy and Illuminae Files, struts her stuff as a solo author with a rousing middle-school adventure speaking to family (both born and made), trust, friendship, and determination. Despite a few instances of overstated writing, Kaufman creates a well-rounded fantasy world graced by scenic touches and relatable characters who transition from human to animal (and back). This is Anders' story, and there are hints aplenty that Rayna's is next.--Welch, Cindy Copyright 2017 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Orphan twins Anders and Rayna discover they are both shape-shifters but possess enemy creature forms: ice wolf and scorch dragon. After strange dragons kidnap Rayna, Anders enlists in the wolves' academy to plan her rescue and soon begins questioning his anti-dragon prejudice. This entertaining supernatural series-starter is anchored by Anders' brotherly devotion as he learns to trust others and realize his own potential. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Twelve-year-old twins discover that they have opposing elemental powers that could change the fate of the entire realm.Homeless, orphan twins Rayna and Anders have spent most of their lives stealing and picking the pockets of rich tourists to survive. Pickings are good at the Trial of the Staff, when the entire village of Holbard gathers to see which of its 12-year-old members have the elemental power to shape-shift into an ice wolf and qualify for the Ulfar Academy. At this event, both twins discover elemental powers: Anders has ice wolf blood and Rayna, dragon bloodbut dragon and wolf are enemies. They are separated when Rayna, in dragon form, flees the Wolf Guard, later to be captured by other dragons. Now Anders has no choice but to join Ulfar Academy in order to learn what the Wolf Guard teaches about dragons, as it is imperative that he locate and save his twin sister. As Anders grows close to the members of the Wolf Guard, he discovers secrets about the true relationship between dragons and wolves. Both twins have brown skin and black, curly hair, and Holbard is a genuinely diverse community. What a treat to have a magical world full of diverse characters in which any young person can imagine themselves as powerful shape-shifters. This engaging page-turner honestly earns its forthcoming sequel.An engaging world and cliffhanger ending leave readers wanting more. (Fantasy. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.