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Cobble Cavern - Erik Olsen Original post can be found at Krazy Book Lady's blog!

Cobble Cavern is the first in a series of five middle grade novels written by Jon Erik Olsen. It, along with the next two books in the series, was originally self-published and is now being published by Cedar Fort Books. It follows the adventures of Flin Newby, his teachers, his classmates, and their bus driver after they are trapped underneath the earth during a field trip to Ireland for an international debate competition.

Flin Newby is poor. He is so poor that the only birthday present that he has ever received is an heirloom ring from his father when he turned thirteen. Despite his family's severe lack of money, Flin is able to work after school and save enough money to go to Ireland with his school's debate team. On the last day of the trip, the tour bus falls into a crevice in a cave. They find themselves in a strange underground world where their survival is questionable at each turn. This new environment is filled with snazzards, grimgoblins, and dangerous plants, but also new friends.

I found Cobble Cavern to be a creative and fun read. The world and situations that Erik Olsen created were interesting, thrilling, and quite unique. There were times that I was on the edge of my seat, so to speak, and glued to the book because I could not wait to find out what happened to the group. It was filled with monsters, nasty antagonists among the group, and fascinating world that I could see vividly in my mind from Olsen's wonderfully descriptive writing.

There were only two things that detracted from my enjoyment of the story. The first was the over-abundance of characters and the manner in which they were written. The main characters were fun and had distinct personalities, but the secondary characters tended to blend together. Several characters popped up throughout the story for various plot points, and I had no idea who they were or what they contributed to the story as a whole. I think fewer characters with speaking roles who were described more clearly could have been more effective in the book. My other issue was the brutality in a few scenes. I will grant that it was used for character development and to progress the story, but it made me extremely uncomfortable. The story is listed as Middle Grade, but I would definitely only recommend it to older MG or the younger end portion of the YA audience.

Overall, this was one of my favorite recent Middle Grade reads. Erik Olsen has created an enjoyable world, and it is a series that I look forward to continuing.

3.5/5 Stars

*To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.