Book Reviews

'Hughes has done a brilliant job crafting a story that no doubt will capture young fantasy lovers and their parents alike. Indie is a wonderful, strong, capable girl – something I’m always excited to see in books meant for young readers. Her supporting cast is fun and memorable and the adventure whisks you away from start to finish.

 It reminds me of all the Studio Ghibli movies I watched as a kid, which is what make me think kids today would really enjoy it. It’s clean enough to be age appropriate, yet dangerous enough to feel like there’s real weight behind characters’ choices. It’s whimsical and fun, but clever enough to treat kids like they’re smart.'

– Tay Laroi, Truth About Books

'An engrossing tale of magic and mystery ... well worth unlocking.' – Colin Steele

'Courage, adventure and wonder.'  Rebecca Berry

'I loved Kalika Magic, I read it on holidays and couldn't put it down. Loved the messages and mystical magic woven through the story.' – Elephant Journal, USA
'The students at The Waldorf School of Atlanta did a book study on Emerald Child, and have been excited to continue the adventure. Even though they are on Summer vacation, these students are about to start The Shaman's Secret. So Excited.' – Waldorf parent, USA

Readers will get swept away

'Chilling. Haunting. Mysterious. The Kalika Magic series delves into the world of fantasy, adventure and magical realism, underpinned by a foundation of sheer grit, determination and strong relationships.

Fourth in this eight-part collection, The Howling Sands takes us on an exciting yet treacherous journey through and between enchanted realms and arduous climates in a bid to save a land from destruction.

The characters’ distinct personalities and the changes they endure bring  deeper complexities to the story. The plot line is also rich with parallel and underlying sub-plots that will have readers entangled in its grasp until the end.

Obviously, a prior knowledge of the series is an advantage, however as a stand-alone read the intrigue intensifies as more and more facets are revealed. Indie, Kai, Nima, Jabar and young Willem are tested at every turn as they evade soldiers, uncover old truths of Kalika legends, persevere with ferocious and enigmatic beings, determine who they can trust and above all, believe in themselves to protect the most important things – their family.

They need to understand the spirit world and how the elements – air, water, fire, earth, and the fifth, Akasha (the spark of life) come together to join forces in protecting the land and themselves.

Characters are faced with the ultimate dilemma of falling under the spell of someone who, in reality you should be able to trust; as she releases their innermost fears to set a false strength and use this against them.

Karen paints a detailed world of atmosphere, imagination and magical wonder in her descriptions. The book highlights the values of family love, self-belief and environmental care and sustainability, and these will be carried throughout the whole series. Readers from age nine will literally get swept away in the midst of drama and fantasy with The Howling Sands, leaving them breathlessly awaiting the next adventure.' – Romi Sharp, Just Write for Kids Australia

This is no fairy story

I love reading new books that are written for children who are ready to sink their teeth into longer more complicated stories. As you can judge from the cover this is no fairy story, but it is a great book for mature kids who want to read something of substance. The characters are realistic, and it is so important for young readers to have characters which they can love and others they wonder about. It's part of their growing ability to learn to accept their own feelings and trust their instincts within the safety of a book's pages.
 The plot is amazing and I'm sure kids won't want to put this book down until they have finished it. So, expect an argument if they have started reading this just before bedtime! Once hooked, I'm sure your children will want to read the whole series. – Susan Day,


'An extraordinary web of characters, the presence of mythical creatures, complex worlds, societies, cultures and languages, the threat of impending battle and good vs. evil.
 In just the space of one 360-page book ('The Howling Sands'), Hughes employs and manipulates all these classic totems of the genre; no mean feat in terms of storytelling. And by all suggestions, the continuing narrative that has come before, establishes the never-ending quest, to no lesser a degree. – Brydie Wright, children's author

Definitely my favourite book

'As I read through the book, it felt like I was in the story. When I came closer to the end, I got even MORE excited about what was going to happen. When I finished the first book, I started to read the next one straight away. They were SOOO good. I was actually sad that I had finished both of them ... I can't wait to read all your books!!!  ... this is definitely my FAVOURITE book!!!' – Maeli, 11, Hong Kong

As many books as Harry Potter

'I hope you are making as many books as Harry Potter or more because I can't wait to read them.' – Hudson, 11, 

I will read it 12 times!

'I can't tell you how much I loved your book. Hopefully the second book comes out soon because I will read it 12 times! Once again, thank you heaps.'  –Ella, 12

Super amazing

'Your book was super amazing. I think I'll be your First Customer to buy your book. The whole class loved it, especially me! It was sooooo fascinating, your book, I can't wait till the next one, and the next one, and the next one, and all the other next ones. Please come to my school and read the next book when you finish it.' –Frances, 12

Bedtime isn't a problem any more

'Bedtime isn't a problem any more. Emma can't wait until we continue reading The Shaman's Secret! Lights out are a problem, though ...' – Derice

Asked for books for his birthday

'Lochy loved the first one and asked for these for his birthday – thanks!' –Elisa

He really  likes your book

'Yeshi went to bed reading and woke up reading, came down the stairs reading and went to the toilet reading. He just closed the pages and spoke for the first time this morning and said that he really likes your book. To truly understand how engrossing it must be, you have to take into account the fact that the moments when Yeshi isn't speaking are very few!' – Linda

Loved it

'An exciting book for children aged 9-11. My 10 year old daughter loved it.' – Mia's mum

Too good to put down

'Oliver devoured this book in an afternoon. It was far too good to put down. When is the next one out?' – Jodie

Inspired her to read

'My daughter was given the first book as a gift and she could not stop reading it. It is the first book she has picked up that she has not wanted to put down. She is overly excited about receiving the second book as well. Thanks! She told me to tell you your books inspire her to read.' – Lora, USA

Absorbed from the start

'A delightful and intelligent story from a clearly gifted author. My daughters were absorbed with it from the start and still comment on it being amongst their favourites.' – Calum

A wonderful addition to children's fantasy fiction

Looking for a mystical adventure series that both you and your children can enjoy? Check out the Kalika Magic books. This series by Karen Hughes, a Hunter Valley mum, is a wonderful addition to children's fantasy fiction ...

The Kalika Magic books are atmospheric and filled with spells, magic and ancient lore. It's easy to get caught up in this magical kingdom. The author perfectly describes the land of Gort. As you read the books, you can visualise the varied landscapes of the Kalika Forest, the Disappearing Islands, the Ice Caves, and the city of Ballyndor. In addition, there are plenty of fascinating characters in these books (both good and bad) and the author brings them to life through rich descriptions and dialogue.

Themes of courage, strength, family and the wonder of magic are evident. I especially appreciate the strong environmental message that permeates these books. Protection of our environment and nature is an ongoing theme.

This chapter book series is best suited to readers aged 8 and over. But it's also a lovely set of books to read out loud to younger kids and discuss the plot lines and themes. My six-year-old daughter and I would read a chapter together at bedtime. However, I did end up reading the books after she was asleep as they're so engrossing. – Reena Bilsen

'Our umbrella kids are loving Kalika Magic.' – Linda Harwood, Umbrella Foundation, Nepal

We are re-reading Emerald Child now

'My mum and little brother met you on Saturday at the Newcastle Library. You signed copies of your books for me and Jimmy. Thank you!!  What will your next book be called? I can't wait to read it. We are re-reading Emerald Child now. My favourite thing in the books is the sword of Veladin. Jimmy's favourite thing is the spirit animals. My favourite character is Kai.' – Charlie

One of the best books I've ever read

'Your book is one of the best books I have ever read! Thank you soo much for coming in and reading to us, and I really want to read your 2nd book, your 3rd book and if you write a 4th. Thanks once again.' – Sophia, 11

I can't wait

'I can't wait until the next book comes out, I'll buy the whole series.' – Josh, 10

Blew me away

'I love your story so so so much. When I heard it the first time it blew me away. I can not wait till the next one.' – Tahlia, 11

Best story in the whole world

'I think your story is the best story in the whole world.'– Nyima, 10

Delight filled adventure

'Wonderful and a delight filled adventure. I read this story to my 11 year old, even though I had not read a loud to her for years, it gave us both a gift of connection, courage, possibility and magic that lives in our hearts. Thank you, Karen Hughes, 100 fold!' – Lulu Trevena


'I'm 11 years old and loved this book, It was amazing!! As I turned the pages, my mind was in the book. I could never stop. I am so anxious for the next books to come out! – Maeli


'Some of the most inspiring young fiction I have read in many years! It helps to channel everyday negative emotions into positive actions by empowering the innate loving & human spirit in us all.
It's also funny & the characters seem like your family after a chapter or two! I'm just looking forward to the next 10 books now!
' – Ali

Wonderfully written

'A wonderfully written children's story. My three children aged 9-11 loved it.' – Bookworm, Verified reviewer, Booktopia

A great read

What a wonderful adventure for younger readers. I was completely taken into the worlds of mystics and powers. A great read – Bluesky, Australia

Magic, mystery and plenty of surprises

'Magic, mystery and plenty of surprises. Don't worry about the kids, buy it for yourself.' – Marc

 Even did news talking about them!

"My almost 8yo son absolutely loved the Kalika Magic series. He has not stopped reading them. Staying awake late at night. Reading on the train to school. He even did news talking about them! And he only starting reading one year ago!

But where do I go to from here? Is there any other books or even more a chapter series that you were inspired by or can recommend? I am guessing that perhaps that’s why you wrote them because there was definitely a need.

I don’t want to start on Harry Potter just yet. But I want to keep encouraging his love for literacy! ps when are you expecting the last book to be released?! (Just so I can manage his expectations, ha ha!!)" –Lesley

Loves Kalika Magic books!

'My daughter loves Kalika Magic books! I quite often find her with her torch at night reading when she should be asleep.' – Paula

Visit the bookstore

Buy Kalika Magic books at Harry Hartog, Organic Feast, and Macleans Booksellers and online at Book Depository, Amazon, Booktopia and everywhere good books are sold. If you'd like signed copies (with cool owl stickers) visit our online bookshop.

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