Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jessi's Review of "Behind the Mist"

Title/Author: Behind the Mist by M.J. Evans
Publisher/Year: Langdon Street Press, 2011
How I Got This: The publisher kindly sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review
Why I Read It: I love fantasy!
Rating: 3.5 Stars 

Quick Synopsis: 

"There exists a land filled with power and magic...behind the mist." 

Nick and his family spend their summers in the Colorado mountains where he first meets and exceptional horse named Jazz. What begins as an increasingly strong bond between a horse and hist young rider goes beyond extraordinary when an unexpected tragedy launches them on a thrilling journey tot he land behind the mist. 

Celestia is the immortal home to noble and great horses that, based upon the virtues they developed on earth, earned the privilege to be given the power and status of a unicorn, and receive their horns. Under the guidance and direction provided by Lord Urijah and his Council of the Twelve Ancients, the unicorns serve as the guardian angels to the animals on earth. 

Nick is the only human in Celestia--or so it first appears. As they learn more about this magical land, Nick and Jazz are compelled to embark on a rescue mission into the Dark Kingdom that is ruled by the evil unicorn, Hasbadana. Though aided on their journey by special skills and unusual allies, the boy and horse confront powers that threaten to destroy them in their attempt to save a lost soul. 

Join Nick and Jazz as they battle the forces of evil and demonstrate the transcendent power of loyalty and love. 

Okay, so this was a 3.5 for me. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but I will say that it is a strong debut from M.J. Evans, nevertheless. Even though I wasn't flying through the pages, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think it's important to slow down sometimes and just enjoy being transported to a different place, and Evans' first book definitely did that for me. 

There were a lot of things that I really enjoyed about Behind the Mist. First and foremost, I have to say that I loved the emphasis Evans places on the power of love. Throughout the novel, love reigns, and it made me all warm and fuzzy and happy inside. It was really refreshing to see the good guys fight the bad guys with love instead of just fighting back with violence. I also enjoyed the other virtues that appear within these pages; off the top of my head, I remember that at one point, Nick has to learn patience and Jazz has to learn to acknowledge and embrace his own strengths. There are some great morals within this book that would lend themselves wonderfully to younger readers. 

Going off of that thought, I liked how this was a clean and quaint fantasy. I could definitely recommend this to younger readers with no qualms.  

Another thing that stood out to me about this novel was that you can really tell that Evans loves horses, and I especially loved that. There are times when a person is so passionate about something and you can just feel it in their words or what they say. Evans' passion absolutely shines through the pages, much in the same way that the power of love shines through Nick and Jazz. If you love horses, you will love this book, without a doubt. 

The only problem I had with this book is that I wasn't quite sure of the audience. Nick is 17, but it read more like middle grade to me. Like I said before, this book is chock-full of morals that would speak nicely to a middle grade crowd, but would be overdone or preachy for YA. Plus, the writing itself seems more geared toward a younger audience. I kept thinking as I read this that it would be a good book for my 9-year-old brother to read because it would be something that he could understand easily. Now, this whole issue isn't too much of a problem. Once I had settled in and prepared myself for middle grade, the reading became much easier for me. 

Not only that, but Evans picks up her stride as the story moves along. The writing becomes more confident, and the flow becomes more...well, flowing. 

Overall, I am looking forward to book #2. There weren't any frustrating cliffhangers or any completely open-ended questions, but I was left wondering a few things. Like what's the deal with Portlas? And what is Hasbadana going to pull next? And I really want to see how Bethany develops. Besides that, I really enjoyed Nick and Jazz as a team, and I'll be looking forward to more! 

This book was graciously sent to me by the author's publishing company in exchange for an honest review. It was just officially released the other day (January 3rd, in fact). It can be purchased from Langdon Street Press' website ( or from the author's websites ( and


  1. I read this too and I agree. The audience was a little unclear to me at first (I knew it wasn't aimed at me!).

    I dont know much about horses, and some of the things she mentioned I would have been really confused about if I didn't have google. But it was still a nice book and I think that middle grade kids would enjoy it.

    Great review! :)

  2. The publisher sent me this book too! I still need to read it, as I've had quite a long list of books ahead of it. I'm a little worried about it, though, especially after reading your comments... Hmmm...

  3. Julia--I'm glad I wasn't the only one confused about the audience. I kept wondering whether it was supposed to be YA or middle grade. Since my review, I talked to the author and she said she was aiming towards a younger audience, so that cleared things up for me.

    Jana--It was a good book, not one that I particularly loved, but it was enjoyable. I think you just have to go into it knowing that it's going to be simpler writing aimed at a younger crowd. Once I got over that bump, it was easier for me to read it.


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