Friday, October 5, 2012

REVIEW: Close to the Heel by Norah McClintock

Close to the Heel by Norah McClintock Title: Close to the Heel
Author: Norah McClintock
Genre: YA Adventure Fiction
Publisher: Orca Books
Release Date: January 1/2012
Acquired: Won through LibraryThing
Goodreads: ADD

No one is more surprised than Rennie to hear that his late grandfather, whom he hardly knew, has left a mission for him to fulfill. Rennie is to fly to Iceland and deliver a message from beyond the grave, but when he gets there, nothing is simple or straightforward. For one thing, Brynja, the teenage daughter of the family he's staying with, is downright hostile. Her father Einar, who is to be Rennie's guide in Iceland, is preoccupied with looking after his elderly father-in-law, an old friend of Rennie's grandfather. Bored and a little bit annoyed, Rennie explores the town and becomes aware that the family is dealing with more than their grief over Brynja's mother's death the year before. Before he realizes what is happening, his curiosity puts Rennie in grave danger, with no one to trust and no one to save him except himself.

First off, let me just say how in love I am with the concept of this book and it's companions. A series of 7 books, 1 shared back story, 7 different authors. Here is the actual copy from the press release I received:

"It all started with Eric Walters and his passion for bringing great stories to kids-especially boys. Eric's idea was to ask six other well-known children's authors to contribute a novel each to a series that would be connected by a grandfather's love of his seven grandsons."

From the very first chapter I was already intrigued. It opened with a bang, and instantly left me wanting to know how Rennie, the main character, was going to find his footing, interact with other characters, and basically evolve as a person.

In beginning of the story, Rennie receives a request via video from his late grandfather-the real grit of the story unfolds as he sets off to fulfill it. I really enjoyed the back story of this narrative, and the sense of adventure it instilled in my mind before the real adventure even began.  I like how the author didn't unnecessarily waste time on the scenes and dialogue leading up to the true heart of the tale, and I found that I couldn't turn the pages fast enough-eager to see where she was taking both Rennie and me.

Rennie's character perplexed me slightly as the story went on, as one minute he came off as a rebellious, obnoxious teen, the next he's caring and concerned for the well being of others-I just couldn't bring myself to fully connect with him. I think I was captivated with his character simply because I felt like he was the one who would eventually unearth one of the main mysteries.

The secondary characters-Brynja, and her father Einar- were much easier to dislike. While I felt that their characteristics were necessary for the story, I just couldn't really stand to hear from them when they were in a scene. Especially Brynja, I pretty much wanted to strangle her from the get go.

Overall this book was compact and quick-paced. It was like a tiny, keep-in-your-pocket mystery, and at the end, I found myself satisfied with the wrap-up, and intensely curious to read the stories of the other 6 grandsons. I'll be getting my hands on those as soon as I can.

Read if you like:
Eric Walters
Michael Grant

Key themes:
adventure, survival, mystery, loss


The other books in the series:

Purchase the entire series at Orca Books

Click to learn more about the books on the website here


  1. Yesss I've heard of this series too. It sounds so interesting, and I'm really excited to read a series that has so many authors writing it. Great review!
    Giselle from Book Nerd Canada

    1. Thanks Giselle! I can't wait to check out the rest of the series.


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