The Last Shadow Warrior by Sam Subity

The Last Shadow Warrior by Sam Subity. Scholastic, 2021. 9781338636079

Format: ARC

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Twelve year old Abby has been practicing her battle-ax skills in preparation for entrance into the Aesir, the modern day tribe of Vikings who are ready to slay any Grendels who threaten humankind. She is attacked by a shadowy menace whom she believes is a Grendel, and she and her Dad flee in the middle of the night. Her mother, now dead for 4 years, was a revered Aesir, and Abby just wants to finish what her Mom started, which is a systematic attack on these ancient foes. On their way to to Vale Hall in Minnesota, a school that specializes in training kids in the Aesir, they are attacked again, landing her father in the hospital in a coma, poisoned by the rare svefnthorn. Abby quickly makes friends of Grimsby and Gwynne, and they work tirelessly to help Abby to find a cure for her father’s mysterious illness.

With echoes of Harry at Hogwarts, his friends and his nemesis, Abby’s journey is steeped in Norse mythology, as well as coming to terms with her grief over her mother’s death and her father’s illness. With monsters, a mysterious book of runes, and teachers at Vale who run the gamut of supportive to dastardly, this book will appeal to fantasy lovers who crave a girl-centered fantasy akin to Harry Potter.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The writing is great, but Abby is the only character with any depth. Her besties Grimsby and Gwynne have no back story whatsoever. All we know is that Grimsby is a funny guy and Gwynne is an Asian-American Valkyrie. A lost opportunity. It’s possible that these characters will be fleshed out in future installments.

To whom would you recommend this book?  For fans of Norse mythology, Harry Potter, The Lightning Thief, and other fantasies where kids wait to realize their powers, ages 10-14.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and middle school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near the top

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: April 20, 2021

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