Sunday, August 14, 2016

Book Review: The Stolen Chapters by James Riley (Story Thieves #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Delightfully fun, fast paced, and twisty
Cons: Only if you haven’t read the first book
The Bottom Line:
Missing memories
And race to rescue a friend
Keep pages turning

What Happened in the Stolen Chapters?

As a lifelong reader, I knew there was no way I wouldn’t love The Story Thieves, and I was right.  The premise was just that much fun. Yet somehow, I didn’t manage to read the sequel, The Stolen Chapters, until now.  Never fear, this sequel is just as much fun as the first one.

Now, if you haven’t read these books yet, you really don’t want to jump in here.  Author James Riley has created a wonderful world, and you’ll miss out on discovering the surprises and set up he’s done in the first book.  In fact, this book assumes you already know the premise of the series and spoils a few events from book one.

You see, the premise involves Owen and Bethany.  Bethany is half fictitious, and she can jump in and out of stories.  Owen is a reader and is thrilled to be able to visit some of his favorite stories.  In the first book, they wind up becoming friends with Kiel, the star of his own series of magical adventures.

As this book opens, Owen and Kiel wake up in the library.  They have no memory of the last few weeks and Kiel doesn’t have his magic wand or his magic book.  A man with a mask shows up, announces that he has Bethany trapped, and it is up to the two of them to free her.  They have just over two hours to do it or they will never see her again.  Oh, and then he sets the library on fire and announces he’s called the police with a tip that they are the prime suspects.

Owen and Kiel immediately disagree with what to do – do they trust the police or not?  Where is Bethany?  And what happened during the time wiped from their memories?

The book actually starts with chapter 10, but don’t worry, as the characters regain their memories, those first 9 chapters fill in for us.  As far as spoilers go, I’ve just told you what happens in chapter 10.  Yes, the book starts that quickly, and things never slow down until we reach the end.  There are twists and surprises along the way, and the pages fly by all too quickly.

While there are obviously three main characters, this book is really Owen’s story.  He gets some great character growth here, and I enjoyed seeing it.  Not to say that the rest of the cast isn’t strong.  In fact, since we gets portions of the story from Owen, Bethany, and Kiel’s points of view, we get to know all three of them very well.

Then there’s the humor.  There are so many moments that made me smile or laugh.  Not to mention just how meta this entire book gets.  Trust me, just go with the flow and enjoy it.  I mean, how can you not enjoy it when Owen complains to himself about flashbacks in a story just as he is about to get a flashback that fills in one of those missing chapters for us?  And for fans of older series detective books, there is a fantastic joke/cameo in this book that I absolutely loved.

And if the flashbacks worry you at all, it is obvious when they happen and they never slow things down.  We, and the characters, need that information to fill in completely what is happening, so it’s great when it happens.

The books are aimed at middle graders, but any fan of fun, well written books will be glad they picked them up.

So don’t wait any longer.  Pick up The Stolen Chapters today and enjoy a wild trip through the fictional world.

You'll want to jump into the rest of the Story Thieves series in order.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  1. I loved how untypical the writing was in this one.The author took many chances and succeeded.

  2. This sounds amazing! I love the puzzlely bookish quality! I'm not sure how I've managed to miss the series as I love MG and I love bookish books and adventure quest type stories.

  3. This sounds like an interesting read! I'm intrigued by the different writing choices that you described. Thanks for featuring it!