When the demon Raiff kidnaps Annie’s guardian, Miss Cornelia, the magical village of Aurora, Annie and her friends must journey to the Badlands to rescue her. Annie, a young Time Stopper who can stop time on command, doesn’t make the journey alone. Together with a team of misfits—an elf who may be the last of his kind, a boy who might be a troll, an irritable dwarf, and a stone giant obsessed with quotes—Annie embarks on a quest to find the last dragon and a golden arrow which will help her defeat Raiff and save her guardian and her village from destruction.
Quest for the Golden Arrow took a little getting used to for me. It’s super different than my usual go-to fantasy read in that it’s really quirky and silly and sort of random. I can definitely see how it would appeal to younger readers because of the high adventure elements paired with the fun, offbeat storytelling. Sometimes the characters stand around and tease each other or make jokes or conversation that has nothing to do with anything but is absolutely the kind of thing that kids really do.
While there are some heavier references (at one point the team learns Raiff tortures his captives, for instance), the story refrains from describing any real violence. Annie uses her Time Stop ability to help her friends escape from more than one battle rather than fighting the enemy head-to-head.
All in all, I think The Quest for the Golden Arrow has strong appeal for younger readers, particularly third or fourth graders. Readers interested in fantasy stories but not quite ready for the likes of Percy Jackson may find this a great introduction to the genre.
Quest for the Golden Arrow features characters of different fantasy races, like dwarfs, elves, trolls, brounies, and giants. In one place the text mentions that Jamie’s skin is dark, but there aren’t a lot of cultural details beyond fantasy race.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
No profanity, though one character is said to swear using words about trolls, etc. Some jokes and situations about gas and poop. (A cow passes gas; a bird poops on someone’s head, etc.)
Annie uses magic to stop time. Also, things she draws become 3D objects. Another character can draw the future, though what he draws isn’t guaranteed to happen. A hag prophesies Annie falling to evil, which haunts not only Annie but her whole team. Jamie may turn into a troll, which prejudices the town against him, and also makes Jamie continually question himself and worry that no matter what he believes and values, he may transform into an evil creature.
Annie’s adversary, Raiff, is a demon and a pretty bad dude. Through the story, Annie learns a secret about Raiff and about herself which forces her to question everything more deeply. See below for spoiler.
References to torture (not shown). Trolls attack Annie’s village and take pixies captive. Annie and her friends battle and attempt to escape from monsters like Snatchers (female monsters with long claws) and a Bugbear. Snake-like creatures bite Annie and her friends.
Brief references to alcohol. In Ireland, the team meets a dwarf who’s fifteen but look much older. He says the Guinness beer ages dwarfs faster. An older man drinks liquor from a flask.
SPOILER – Spiritual Content
Annie learns that Raiff is her great-grandfather, and therefore, she’s part demon herself. She worries, like Jamie does, that this means she may be destined for evil no matter what she truly wants and values.