Hey guys, so I recently got sent the first two books in the Red Hand Adventures series by Joe O’Neill. Shoutout to Christie Clark from Black Ship Publishing for doing that for me, and to Xander from Xander’s Middle-Grade Book Blog for the great recommendation!
REBELS OF THE KASBAH, the first book in the series, is where you meet Aseem, Margaret, Fez and Tariq; four kids who have been kidnapped and sold as slaves to a man named Caid Ali Tamzali. Tamzali owns a sprawling kasbah and forces his slaves to compete in deadly camel races. The four kids bond and become friends, forging an alliance that they hold on to even as they suffer the abuse of their slave masters and travel from the Moroccan desert to the waters of the Mediterranean.
THE WRATH OF THE CAID picks up after REBELS, finding the four friends scattered. Margaret returns to her normal life after escaping from the Kasbah only to find that she can no longer see things and fit in the way she did before her adventures in Morocco. Meanwhile, Aseem, Fez and Tariq are trying to find ways to overthrow the Caid and how to stop him–if he can be stopped. All the while, the Caid is infuriated with recent events and enlists the help of the Black Mamba and the French Military to destroy all those who defy his rule.
I was really impressed with this series. The blurb on the back and on Goodreads is a little hard to understand and tell you what the story is really about, so at first glance I wasn’t planning on reading this series. Luckily, I got a few recommendations to read this book and the one that finally won me over was Xander’s from Xander’s Middle-Grade Book Blog.
The action, adventure and high-paced nature to this book surprised me. There were not a lot of dips to the pace, which kept the flow really steady. I’ve already shared the news on book with a lot of my fellow MG book bloggers and I’ve been getting a lot of praise on it. The idea is original, the writing smooth and the thriller-esque theme that is not so familiar to MG readers is all there. It’s exactly what I’ve been wanting recently, because of all the contemporary MG that’s out right now.
That was REBELS. I must admit that I thought WRATH OF THE CAID would be dull in comparison to REBELS and I wondered if I should read it or not. I did, because I was curious as to what would happen to Aseem, Margaret, Fez and Tariq, and if anything–I like it better than REBELS. The characters that Joe O’Neill brings up in WRATH OF THE CAID livens the story even more and rounds out the character list so that there’s more to focus on, an element that I enjoyed when it came to this story.
Another thing–1912 Morocco. That’s not a setting you see very often, and I was extremely impressed with it. All the details and descriptions were there for me, making it easy to envision the world that O’Neill set up. Not only that, but those characters, Even some of the “bad guys” I could sympathize with, and that’s not something that most authors do very well. I don’t think it was as good as Elizabeth Eulberg’s Sophie from Take a Bow, but still–I enjoyed getting to know O’Neill’s characters in that aspect of things.
Overall, I liked this story a lot. I think it has a fresh, original concept to it that readers will be excited by. I look forward to seeing the third book in the series and re-visiting this world once again. 4 stars.
pg count for Rebels (p): 288
pg count for Wrath of the Caid (p): 230
Series: The Red Hand Adventures