Book Review: Arestana: The Key Quest by Shawn P.B. Robinson

What this book is about: 

Arestana is the story of Liam, a kid who is transported to a fantasy world and is expected to complete a quest in order to be able to return home to his usual life of being bullied and somewhat neglected by his parents.

What I liked: 

The story is creative and there are quite a few things that are really fun and whimsical. Character development feels really consistent, even in Jeb the chicken (you’ll just have to read it to understand). I also really respected each time the ante upped – the moment you thought it couldn’t get MORE ridiculous, it does. It really inspires me to up the ante in my stories. I like books that help me write better myself.

What I didn’t like: 

The writing itself was a bit clunky throughout. I think another good edit (probably from an editor) would have taken this book to the next level. There were a lot of places where sensory words were used and didn’t need to be (Liam felt, Liam saw, etc) and similar wording things. This is a personal preference thing, but I was turned off by some name-calling in the book. I understand it was supposed to be humorous, but it really stood out to me and turned me off a bit. I guess I’m sensitive to that.


Overall thoughts and opinions: 

I thought the book was okay. Not great, but not awful – solidly in okayland.

I started out reading the book with my kids (who are 3 and nearly 5), but the chapters were too long to keep their attention. I found myself editing as I read it aloud to try to cut down the wordiness. By about chapter 6, I gave up reading it to them and continued on alone.

Overall, the book struggled to hold my attention, but it was probably mostly due to the need for another edit. There were some amusing things and it’s probably a great book for the age range it’s targeted to, but I personally struggled to stick with it and get it read.

I think it’s really creative and some of the humor is good (very slapstick, which also just isn’t quite my thing). The world is developed decently and characters are decent as well, though some minor characters feel extremely flat. They’re minor characters, though, so I can forgive that.

I think that for the kid age range it’s going for, it’s a great book that will challenge their reading, be full of great imagery, some totally awesome kid humor that will almost without a doubt suck them in, and the plot always continues to move forward. There are some really good things about this book, but for me, just a couple glaring issues that I struggled to overcome. I’m almost certain the average reader wouldn’t have an issue with any of it. I did pass the book along to my voracious reader 12-year-old nephew, so I’m definitely curious to see what he thinks. I think it’s worth getting for your middle grade reader, but I have my doubts that adults would enjoy it as much as a kid.


My nephew (12) read this book and he absolutely loved it. He read it in one day and thought it was fantastic. Therefore, I am updating my review to reflect his thoughts on the book. For the age group intended, it is perfect.

All things considered, I’d give Arestana 4 stars.

4 star rating

Learn more about the author, this book, and all the books in the Arestana series.