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Rebels of the Kasbah and Wrath of the Caid Review by Lis Penney

Joe O’Neill
Red Hand Adventures

Rebels of the Kasbah and Wrath of the Caid are two new adventure novels targeting the juvenile market. The stories are fast-paced, and follow the exploits of a group of children who are enslaved in the early 20th century in Morocco. The cast of characters includes native Moroccan children, orphans, an Asian martial arts expert (ninja?), pirates, British Naval officers, a power-hungry war lord, an English schoolgirl, and more.

Both my 13 year old son and my 16 year old daughter felt that these books were real “page turners.” In fact, they had a hard time putting them down. Both were disappointed that the third book hadn’t yet been published, as The Wrath of the Caid ended on a real cliff-hanger.

I was the last one in our family to read the books, which is a regular occurrence with a voracious reader in the household. I was disappointed that I hadn’t read them first, before offering them to my children, as I might have chosen not to hand them over if I had.

The author is writing from a distinctly non-Christian worldview (karma is a big part of his philosophy, which comes through in the books, and is very clearly stated by him on his website). A central theme of the book is "Don't be a victim," but the particular emphasis is that if someone does you wrong, you *should* extract revenge, because then and only then will you even possibly be able to find peace. Whatever happened to "two wrongs don't make a right"?  This wouldn’t be so troublesome if it were only the evil characters that held to this standard, but it is a trait of almost every character in these stories. 

In this particular instance, my 13 year old didn’t really discern the worldview issues, while my 16 year old was confused. She had assumed that the books were from a Christian publisher, as most of our review books are, and she felt something was “off.”

Beyond that, there are glaring inconsistencies in details throughout the stories and rather poor use of vocabulary, as well as more descriptive violence than I would generally anticipate for a juvenile book. While I suspect the author would suggest 10+, I would personally recommend no younger than 13, specifically because of the fairly graphic descriptions of the violent realities of slave life, and communities under mini-despots. The author rationalizes including this sort of thing in juvenile fiction as follows: “My philosophy is a lot of this stuff really happened and it’s important to realize that. Most kids in America have pretty great lives and it’s important to realize that not everyone has it as good as us.” While I understand that many children today live harsh lives, due to their circumstances, I don’t feel that my children need to read, see, or hear about those desperate environments in fictional lives, particularly when there are very few redeeming moral values being portrayed.

While I appreciated some of the adventures, and the style of narration (back-story chapters on each major character were interspersed throughout Rebels of the Kasbah to help the reader understand them more), and in spite of the desire to “find out what happens,” even though my less voracious reader is interested in these books, I am not likely to purchase any following adventures for my family. This is a case where I will hold to Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Product Review by Lis Penney, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2014