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The Orphans of Mordecai's Castle, Book Two: The Leviathan; The Orphans of Mordecai's Castle, Book Three: The Champion Review by Barbette Yingst and Missica Pullen

Cara Simmons
Simmons Olivegrove Publications
P.O. Box 4406
Yalesville, CT 06492

I am a mom of three girls. My oldest graduated from a brick and mortar school, and my younger two have been homeschooled for the past five years. One of the things that I disliked about the brick and mortar school was the selection of books that they required the students to read during the course of their education. There were times that the books selected weren’t appropriate and were not books that I would want my children to read.

As an avid reader, I wanted my children to have a love of books. I also find it important to find books that are interesting and Godly. Not that I think everything they read should be about God, but I don’t want books to work at degrading the morals and virtues that we hold to. That is why it is so exciting that I had the opportunity to review both of these amazing books from The Orphans of Mordecai’s Castle Series:

  • The Orphans of Mordecai’s Castle: Book 2 The Leviathan
    • The Orphans of Mordecai’s Castle: Book 3 The Champion

Although I did not receive Book 1: The Haven, to review, I know that it is one that I will get for my family library!

Cara Simmons was born and raised in Vermont and is a homeschool mom herself. I found her story very inspirational. As a mother of five kids she saw a need and filled it. Her goal was to create Godly reading material for her own kids and my family was able to reap the benefits! She wrote this series for grades four and up, and they are relatable to all age groups. I am very thankful that she saw fit to follow the prompting that God placed inside her to write these books, they are truly unique!

Book 2: The Leviathan – Based in the 1800’s this book about 13 orphan children is absolutely delightful. Stranded on an island and taking refuge in a castle, these orphans range in age from 4 to 16. After realizing they were beached on an island, they managed to take refuge in a castle for shelter. There were many scary things that followed and the kids were thankful that the Lord had taken care of them. Mr. & Mrs. Carver (missionaries) became guardians to these delightful children after spending time praying and fasting for God’s direction. The island was home to a lot of adventures and harrowing circumstances. At every turn the orphans are faced with peril and the old superstitions about what lives on the island, and in return they put their hope and trust in the One True God. Knowing that He is a faithful Father.

Book 3: The Champion – This is the third and final book in The Orphans of Mordecai’s Castle series. Another year has passed and life on the island is just as lively as ever! Peculiar things are happening on the island. As the orphans face extreme situations they are shaken to the core of their faith and have to refocus their faith in a faithful and loving God who proves himself to be their Champion.

We were able to use these as a supplement to our English/Reading program for my ninth grader. These novels are well written and exciting. Our family loves books full of thrills and adventures and these books fit the bill! As soon my daughter cracked the cover, she was hooked. I give these books two thumbs up!! The cost of each of these books is $14.00 and at that rate, it is so easy to purchase the entire set for your homeschool or classroom!

—Product review by Barbette Yingst, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2016

Another Reviewer's Perspective:

To me, there's nothing better than curling up with a good book. Some of my fondest days are spent wrapped in my favorite throw, in front of a window on a rainy day, with a book in my hand. Even in the digital age of e-books, I still prefer to hold a physical book, soaking up the words while inhaling that sweet smell of ink on the pages. It's even better when my chosen book is part of a series, so that I can delve into the lives of the characters as they make their way through their fictional lives. Cara Simmons has written a lovely series about a hidden Atlantic Ocean island that is home to orphans, and those who care for them. On this island is a medieval castle, and a village, along with a multitude of characters with varying personalities. There are stories of pirates, redeemed pirates, treasure, and love. The Orphans of Mordecai's Castle is comprised of three books in total, and I was blessed to receive two of those books to review.

I first read The Orphans of Mordecai's Castle: The Leviathan. This is the second book of the series. I have not been fortunate enough to read Book One, but I did not find that to be a hindrance in the least. The first few pages of the book set the stage, and offer enough understanding so that I wasn't confused or lost at all. Though, I do feel like I would have enjoyed it even more had I read the first one prior to the 2nd. After finishing The Leviathan, I couldn't wait to start on The Orphans of Mordecai's Castle: The Champion (Book Three). I found I enjoyed this one more than the second book due to having already established a knowledge base with the characters, and the anticipation built up in the second book. They are both very well written, with characters that seem to come to life on the pages. The author's use of imagery and dialogue played out in my mind more like a movie than a book.

Each book is as much of a life instruction manual as it is an entertaining read. Each offers Bible verses that are applied by the situations the characters are in. And, I would imagine, each reader can take from them what they need. For me, I found the focus of Book Two to be about God's Will vs your own desires. I know I have often battled within myself when I feel led to one choice, when I really want to make another. The third book focuses on having faith and trust; trusting in your faith to see you through. These are the lessons I took from each.

The author's writing style is appealing for both adults and children, but it is my opinion the books are intended for an older age set of child. A child aged 10+ could easily read and understand, and an older child may take more away from the inner messages. Both books would also be very nice read-aloud selections for younger kids. As an adult, I have very much enjoyed reading these alone before passing them along to my 11 year old son. These books are Christ centered, offering a plethora of Biblical references and verses throughout. They are based on a "sinner's prayer" form of salvation. If you are of a different belief, you may find conflict with some of the concepts presented, and may wish to talk to your children beforehand about those.

Overall, I found the writing style to be enjoyable, creative, and well-paced. I did not find any parts were too boring, nor did I feel as if the stories jumped around too much. I would recommend this book to others, especially those with children who are in the middle school grades as I feel this book is in tune with that age range. My son and I both have thoroughly enjoyed both of these books.

-Product review by Missica Pullen, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2016