Today I am going to share my book review of Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton.
The first in the series, Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder, was hailed by the judging panel of The Booklife Prize to be ‘dizzyingly bewitching, articulate and intoxicating.’ The sequel, Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie, was released on July 31st 2022.
On the 13th September 2022, I took part in a book tour for the release this sequel, which you can see the Q&A interview I did with Sharn for this tour here: Blog Tour – Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton
However, before I begin the actual review, I would like to tell you all about the amazing book package I received of the review copies. This must be one of my favourite and most theatrical themed review book packages that I have ever received and I am in awe of Sharn for the organisation that must of gone in to doing this.
When I first received the parcel I did not know what it was – it really was a mystery package. When I opened it there was a Big Top shaped box that fit the circus theme perfectly. However, there was a piece of card covering the window at the front, which I had to remove before all was revealed. So cool! Just like magic.
Just the box was impressive enough, but when I removed the contents of the box I was overwhelmed to discover what I assume is a wind-up paper dragon (and not a butterfly), a bag of pop corn ideal for eating at the circus, or while you read the books, and a copy of not only the book I was asked to review but also the first book in the series: Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder.
Sharn had also kindly signed both books, which was lovely.
It was so exciting! Thank you Sharn.
All I have to do now is get on with the review.
Title: Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menangerie
Written by: Sharn W Hutton
Published by: Star City Press
I can say with hand on heart, the second book is even better than the first, as we follow Phyllo on another action-packed adventure. Twelve-year-old Phyllo Cane use to work with his family – brother, sister and father – in the Circus of Wonders. His dad runs the magical confectionery business where the enticing sweets are made of beautiful memories that will fill the person eating them with joy as they watch the show.
However, mishap and mayhem seem to follow Phyllo and threaten the circus wherever he goes from accidently burning down the big top to getting his twin brother hurt by confronting the jester. It is not surprising the exasperated Ringmaster orders Phyllis to start again elsewhere in the circus in a bid to discover his real talent and place in this incredible world of magic. The second book opens straight away from where the last book left off with Phyllo worried if he does not find his place he will be asked to leave the safety of the Circus and his family will follow him into the In-between.
In Circus of Wonder, Phyllo was apprenticed as a Trapeze Artist with an unfortunate fear of heights. In Magical Menagerie, we Join Phyllo for his next apprenticeship, which this time happens to be with Tamer Venor, who cares for all the mystical creatures in the Menagerie. This is such a great concept and will open the series up to Phyllo to draw on this incredible skill on more apprenticeship adventures in the future.
Tamer Venor is worried about her favourite dragon and needs to get it back on its feet before the ringmaster decides it is worth more money to use it for meat. The sand dragon is lonely and wants a mate, but finding a male sand dragon will be difficult as they are very rare. Tamar knows she will never be able to catch one on her own. So Phyllo becomes her apprentice to help her but the problem is Tamar already has an apprentice who she found on the streets and Panya seems to have taken an instant dislike to Phyllo. To catch the sand dragon Phyllo must first embark on a quest to discover his animal totem, a magical baton, a mystical portable altar and the exact words of command to control it.
This magical upper middle-grade, fantasy adventure is well written with some excellent world building. Sharn’s exceptional descriptions bring vivid pictures to the mind of the circus, the atmosphere, and the magnificent beasts in the menagerie. The reader is transported into the world of big tops, popcorn, breath-taking countryside and some brilliantly flamboyant characters.
The plot is full of unexpected twists and Phyllo, true to character, still makes slightly dodgy decisions with sometimes hilarious results. The book also touches on themes of depression and addiction.
I really enjoyed the story and can’t wait to read the next instalment. I would recommend this book to fluent readers in Year Six upwards.
The Adventures of Phyllo Cane are available as e-book for Kindle and are included in Kindle Unlimited. Paperbacks are available for order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones. Most book stores will be able to order it in. If you visit the Amazon pages you will be able to see full descriptions and the possibility of downloading a free sample for kindle. The international book link to the series is: mybook.to/PhylloCane
If you haven’t taken a peek already, please do take a look at the author interview I did with Sharn W. Hutton please see: Blog Tour – Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton
I would also like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Through My Letterbox for ensuring I received review copies so I could take part. Thank you.