Book Review: Life Charmer: Koda’s Quest

Life Charmer: Koda's Quest
Life Charmer: Koda’s Quest by Kristal Shaff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Koda picks up an ancient Native American arrowhead, he is endowed with the power of the Life Charmer, and is able to control the life force of animals. He can carve a wooden totem or likeness and summon the spirit of a living animal into the wood. But because of these god-like powers, Koda is being hunted by monsters of Native American myth and legend, and he must find allies in unlikely places among the tribes if he is to defeat his enemies and prove himself to the gods. The tribal council of elders sends Koda on a quest to prove his worth, and while Koda is still learning about his abilities, he will need the help of his new friends to stay alive.

This book reminds me strongly of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Koda is sarcastic and funny, and he surrounds himself with a variety of delightfully weird characters. The book mixes the modern-day world with ancient myth and magic. And of course, there is nothing quite like a heroic quest against monsters!

Oh my goodness, I adore Koda! He is a wonderful main character, with just the right mix of being scared and being brave to make you feel like you are in his shoes. He’s completely hilarious, and I love his snarky commentary on everything going on. He has a strong will, and I love how assertive he is when he feels something isn’t right. He really is a complex character, full of both doubt and confidence at the same time.
I was intrigued by his quiet and trusting relationship with his father. I want to know more about those two in future books.

One of my favorite parts of this book was when Koda tried to drive. He’s just a kid, but he has to drive this big van across half the country, and it was so hilarious!!

It was wonderful seeing Koda dealing with this new world of magic, and trying to get a grip on his own magical powers. We discover the world of Native American myth just as Koda does, seeing everything through his eyes- the racism, the elitism, the unspoken rules, the superstitions, and the camaraderie. It’s all in there together.

The world-building is consistent and well-developed, but I want more! I want to know everything! I hope there will be more and more insight into the legends and gods as the books go on. The really great thing about this world of magic is that it exists side by side with the regular modern world, and that has its advantages and its own problems for the characters. They have to navigate through both worlds without losing their heads!

I was a little iffy about some of the side characters at first, but then I grew to love them! Seeing their relationships develop was interesting, and getting to know each of the characters individually was entertaining. I can’t wait to read more about them!

Since I’m a character-driven reader, I didn’t mind that the plot, while imaginative, is not actually surprising. I saw the plot twists coming a mile away, knew all along who the secret bad guy was, and had nearly everything figured out before Koda did. But I don’t care! I love the characters, and that’s all that matters to me.

When I read an ARC of this book, there were some grammar problems, typos, and spelling errors, but I think they have probably been corrected by now.

Disclaimer: I received an ecopy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts, and are not influenced by anyone.

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