Review: The Four Elements by Ryan Zavis

When four thirteen-year-old siblings are the grandchildren of gods, things are bound to get exciting, and that’s exactly what happens in Ryan Zavis’s The Four Elements (Zukopal Book 2). Rok, Pegi, Rojan, and Lihala have power over earth, water, fire, and wind respectively, and they use these powers to not only help their small, isolated village but also to protect the all-important Zukopal from their Uncle Labec. After all, the Zukopal, a mysterious opal ring, was a gift from the gods and yields power beyond all imagination. A collection of four short children’s books, The Four Elements takes the reader on four separate adventures – one for each of the siblings.

Although aimed at 8-9-year-olds, the Zukopal series has something for everyone – children and adults alike. Even younger children with good attention spans could easily be enthralled by these quick and quaint tales. Each story is told from the perspective of a different character, and therefore is focussed on a different element, which really adds something special to the structure, making the books seem a complete and well-rounded set of stories. The other benefit of that, of course, is that as readers, we get to invest equally in all the characters, as each sibling takes their turn to showcase their personalities and their powers.

Whilst on the topic of the characters, Zavis’s characterisation is charming and endearing. Each character—including more minor characters such as Nyark and Gem—is a whole character, not a mere caricature. They are believable with full personalities that are clear and distinct from each other. Sometimes, things get a little less believable—such as the parents allowing four 13-year-olds to run amok as they please—but ultimately, the reader is taken into the story so deeply that they can’t help but feel a close, familial connection with the characters.

It’s simply written in a manner suitable for its target market, but also beautifully written, with some alluring descriptive phrases and excellent pacing as the adventure unfolds. It reminded me somewhat of Enid Blyton’s adventure stories: quaint and whimsical and free, but with a modern twist to it, making it bold and exciting too. And to add that little extra special something, the fourth book ends with an excitement that hints at more books to come – and the only thing better than a great series of books is the promise of more books to that series!

Although without a doubt children’s books, I urge you to read The Four Elements whatever your age, because they’ll make you smile, they’ll whisk you away on a heart-rending adventure, and they’ll have you falling in love over and over again.

Want to have a little taster? Get the first book free here: The Splitting Earth (Zukopal Book 1)


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