Suitcase of Stars (Enchanted Emporium, book one)
By Pierdomenico Baccalario
Published 2014 by Capstone Young Readers
Finley's life is about to change. He's about to meet the Lily family, a pretty girl about his age and her father who've moved into a strange house in his town. They're about to make life much more complicated for him.
I'm lucky enough to be auto-approved for Capstone's titles on NetGalley, so when I spotted this one, I figured I'd give it a shot, part of my ongoing attempt to stay current with middle-grade lit. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to this one prior to its release date but I finished it recently, so now it's time to see what I thought.
Also unfortunately, I didn't really enjoy this book very much. The blurb makes it sound much more interesting than it actually turns out to be. You see, the blurb focuses on the Enchanted Emporium, the shop that Aiby Lily runs with her father. But, we don't find out about that shop until quite far into this book, and, as a whole, we don't find out terribly much about that shop. There is no mention of the magical artifacts that the blurb discusses. This is a huge disappointment, as that's the book I wanted to read. Instead, this book focuses a lot on Finley and how he befriends Aiby. There is a lot of annoyance from Finley as Aiby is a bit cagey with information for him and he becomes frustrated. It seemed like there was a lot of time spent on introducing Finley and making him a sympathetic character, which didn't really work for me.
Once Finley and Aiby start communicating a bit more, the action picks up a little. Unfortunately, by this point, I was already disappointed with the book and the whole thing felt disjointed and a bit all over the place. Nothing about this book was particularly memorable and, considering the plethora of other middle-grade fantasy out there, I don't see myself recommending it. It's the first in a series focusing on the Enchanted Emporium and, in all likelihood, the next books will actually talk about the Emporium in more detail. I won't be returning to find out for myself, though.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via NetGalley.