All thirteen-year-old Conner Dell wants is to pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens. He didn't mean to set anyone's gym shorts on fire, or make school lunches explode. But now that the strange powers inside him have been ignited, Conner's normal teenage life is about to go up in flames!
One “dark and stormy night,” Conner, his twin sister, Lexa, and her friend Melanie are studying at home, and all is well, despite the storm. Until Melanie opens the front door.
Waiting in the street is danger, and they all three sense it. The lights go out, the dogs bark furiously, then mysteriously stop, and a lone man, dressed in black, is standing in the street. A coincidence? A scene right out of a scary movie?
Perhaps it's all innocent enough, until the same man is spotted near their school. Who is this guy, and what does he have to do with magi, kindling, and the Dark Force?
Bell weaves magic and telepathy into what most would consider the mundane world of middle school in this easy-to-read novel. Although at times as an adult reader, I felt the world-building needed to be a little stronger, and occasionally the telepathic talk was confusing, the book was enjoyable and has received great reviews from my students who are curious about what will happen next in the lives of Conner and Lexa.
Years of teaching middle school students has helped the author target the voice he gives to the characters, as well as the emotions they experience at discovering their lives are now special and in danger. The Kindling could serve as a gateway for young readers interested in moving from juvenile books which average 100 pages, toward heftier novels such as Harry Potter, helping readers build their skills in text complexity.
Recommend for grades 5-8, depending on the student's independent reading skills.