The Good Hawk

Shadow Skye Trilogy, Book One

Written by Joseph Elliott

Jaime and Agatha have lived their whole life with their clan among the caves. Agatha enjoys the duty of a hawk where she protects the border from sea invaders. However, when she accidentally attacks her clan, it is decided that she will be removed from her position. This angers her greatly because she is autistic. She hates when her routine is disturbed, loud noises, large crowds, and the voices in her head that allow her to talk with animals.

Jaime hates being an Angler and becoming a sailor. He is freed from his duty, but he must marry a stranger for the safety of his clan. On his wedding night his clan is betrayed, and everyone is sold into slavery. Jaime and Agatha go on a quest to rescue their clan. It is hopeless but they know they will succeed.

This book is written by your typical modern author. He is trying to score brownie points with the world by creating his main character to be a youth with special needs. Whenever you read Agatha’s perspective in the story it does not feel realistic. Her thoughts, mannerism, and thought process are all presented in third person. Joseph Elliott believes that since he has spent his whole life surrounded by youth with special needs that he can fully understand them and write a character with those same needs. Being surrounded is not the same as having the disorder.

Joseph does not care about his readers. Children with autism would have a difficult time understanding the plot of the story because he vaguely alludes to important bits of information. For example, they encounter an individual who is gay, but the reader would have to understand what “having a partner” means. The author tries to create a unique world with language inspired off Scottish Gaelic and Old Norse, but it is not thoroughly developed. Original ideas are not full fleshed out and all action sequences are surface level at best. This book is designed to be a political statement instead of a book for children to enjoy reading.

His goal was to create the next best-selling series but Joseph just Frankensteined together common story elements in an adventure story. It was idiotic to create two weak main characters to carry his adventure story. Jaime and Agatha only survived due to the kindness of others. They only succeed because it was convenient to the plot. The characters became overly confident for no reason and cunning enough to overpower trained soldiers when throughout the story their plans were pathetic and failed most of the time. The author kills his characters when they were no longer useful, and their death is insignificant to the plot. In addition, the main characters do not grow as individuals. They stayed the same but the people around them just accepted them.

Countless movies and stories are being created daily that contain these poorly written story elements. Attention is focused on the underdog who must succeed to fit the current trend in children’s literature. I only remember this dreadful book because it was painful to read. It is important to have diversity of literature in the library, but I urge all authors to only write what they know about. If you do that, the story stays authentic. Joseph Elliott would have done better creating a realistic novel about a boy who must navigate being a foster brother for a child with autism. He grew up in that environment and could accurately depict the emotions behind caring for someone with special needs.

Reviewed by LeeAnne Grover, Media Clerk, Hillside Elementary
Rating: ★✩✩✩✩ (1 star)
Interest Level: 4th grade-9th grade

The Good Hawk
Written by Joseph Elliott
Walker Books
319 pages
Release Date: January 21, 2020
ISBN: 9781536207187
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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