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Reviews Bookbloggers

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'The best book for the 9-12 age group published this year'

The Reading Train

This is the best book for the 9-12 age group published this year. As an adult reading the book to or alongside your child, you can really enjoy the themes that are raised, and they invite you to discuss them with your children. It’s all written in a light but exciting style. 

If you put all the famous kids’ books you know in a food processor you’d come up with this book. It has its own unique style and includes a lot of humour. But mostly it’s the underlying message that makes this book so special: how does our world and its people fit together and how do we deal with love and friendship, disappointment, greed, power and politics and even high sensitivity. These ideas are all enthusiastically woven together with an exciting adventure. This book invites discussions and is perfect for a reading group at school or a book report.  

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'Much more than a pure fantasy book: original, refreshing, highly recommended'

Lookie Books

To characterize this “Return of the Shadow Lord” as a pure fantasy book would do the edition an injustice. It's much more than that. Despite the fantastic elements, the whole still feels logical and realistic. Zutje and Deviss built with their story a relatively simple plot line well beyond the initial set-up into a book with many threads.
On the one hand, various themes are addressed, whether hidden or not, such as parental love, friendship, bullying, trust or even oppression. On the other hand, we are presented with many "small" but very fine elements that manage to lift the plot line above the average. For example, the language that Lev (and by extension all Catoman) speaks is hilarious at times and they provide a light-hearted undertone, even in earlier weighty story moments or young readers will dream away with all the gadgets that the hubbel has to offer.

Jack & Lev combines a handful of quasi-classical elements from other childhood stories into an original whole that feels extremely refreshing and anyone who dares to read it will undoubtedly be charmed by the overall picture. A must for any young reader . I am eagerly looking forward to the sequel in this series.

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'Excitement, mystery, adventure, and magic:
Dream away'

The Reading Club of Everything

Excitement, mystery, adventure, and magic. These are the words that came up for me after reading Jack & Lev: The return of the Shadow Lord. Children who enjoy this genre will be transported into the story and won’t want to stop reading. 

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'Beautiful and humorous reading book full of adventure '


What an impressive and compelling story Jack & Lev: The return of the Shadow Lord is. The writers present us with an exciting, mysterious and funny adventure about Jack & Lev. The duo – Zutje & DeViss – also gives us well-rounded characters. They create beautiful, well-written sentences with elaborate descriptions. Sentences like ‘The copper doorhandles matched the name plates on the heavy timber doors.’ illustrate the style of this book. 

The writing pulls you along and you can’t help wondering what will happen next. 

Kids of 9 years and older will appreciate this book’s detailed descriptions, fast-paced story, originality and excitement. This is a beautiful and funny novel that’s full of adventure. 

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'Highly recommended'


Jack & Lev is a well-structured book. The reader gets drawn into the story straight away. The characters really come alive well. It’s an exciting book with just the right amount of excitement. I can’t wait to take the book to school with me. I’m sure they’ll be waiting in line to borrow it! A book about friendship and trust. Highly recommended. 

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'Super exciting and also funny'

book lover

Nothing but thumbs up for this one. A book filled with action and excitement. This book is in my top 3 favourite books. I don’t understand how the authors could think up such a beautiful story. 

9 ½ out of 10.

Excitement, mystery, and adventure are all found in this story about Jack and Lev. With a fast pace and an eye for detail, this book is super exciting but funny as well. In other words: a fabulous story with a great arc. It’s presented in an interesting way, particularly because of Lev’s use of language and all the funny mistakes she makes. Kids will love it. 

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'A big five stars'

Reading together is more fun

Even though I’m not part of the 8 to 12 age bracket, this book’s cover and title appealed to me straight away. I can tell you that Zutje & DeViss surpassed my expectations. 

The characters are well-rounded, each with their own defined personality. Because of these characters and the descriptions but also due to the illustrations, the book comes to life. Very suitable to read aloud, particularly because of the way Lev speaks, but also fun to read to yourself. Action and excitement are alternated with humour and jokes. Day to day societal problems are woven together with issues like being teased at school and the value of friendship. These themes are subtly incorporated into the story and provide food for thought for young and old. 

Definitely a book you should have in the bookcase at home and at school. A book I can recommend to young and old and one that I hope will have a follow-up!   

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'A wonderful children's book as a children's book should be'

Passion for Books

An exciting adventure for young readers and their parents. The cover art on the book invites you to read it, it’s almost as exciting as the story described on the back cover. There are also illustrations throughout the book that really support the story. They add to the atmosphere. How good would it be to read this book aloud? The writers really teach children to get to know people before judging them. 

Jack & Lev – The return of the Shadow Lord is exactly how a junior fiction book should be: a big dose of adventure, a pinch of a mystery and a beautiful, relevant message that children will discover. 

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'Magic children's book, full of funny and exuberant characters

In the bookcase

The return of the Shadow Lord is a magical middle grade book with big baddies, small and large heroes, and unexpected powers. The authors bring a playfulness to the book in some of the illustrations and in the way Lev and her people speak English. Their use of language is consistently funny and I can imagine young readers giggling about the words Lev uses. Jack and Lev’s story is full of funny and exuberant characters who create a pleasing story that is not only exciting, funny and imaginative but also sweet. Family and friendship play an important role even though they might seem in short supply.

Jack & Lev – The return of The Shadow Lord is an adventurous fantasy youth novel with the right amount of excitement to keep older readers interested but not to frighten off the younger ones. I look forward to Jack & Lev’s next adventures. 

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'Lev stole my heart'

Majonne Lives and Reads

​The action starts straight away in the first few pages. There’s mystery: the strange dognapping, followed by the first meeting with the odd girl, Lev. The mystery develops slowly through a beautiful, dramatic arc to a nail-biting ending. I read the last 125 pages in one go because the story was so exciting. The dialogue is well-written, the writers don’t shy away from complicated or unfamiliar words, but they don’t overuse them either. And Lev? She stole my heart.

The story ends with a smile and a tear, but also leaves room for a sequel. I so enjoyed this exciting story full of fantasy and humor and can't wait for part 2.

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