ARC Review — Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston

  • Title: Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston
  • Author: Esme Symes-Smith
  • Genre: MG Fantasy
  • Pages: 400 pages
  • Publication date: November 8, 2022

I have been following Esme online for a while, so of course I picked up Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston. Sir Callie follows Callie as she tags along on a quest with one of her dads. He was a legendary hero and has been summoned back to Helston to help train the prince. The town—on the verge of war with the dragons outside of it—has gender rules though. And these suffocating rules prevent Callie, the prince, and many others from being themselves. But with some new friends, Callie might just be able to make a difference in Helston.

Sir Callie is full of fun, memorable characters. Callie is a blast to follow, a character who has grown so strong and proud of being who they are. Willow as the prince who has magic that he must hide, even if it destroys him inside, grew on me throughout the book. And I especially liked the twins and how they both had different reactions to getting away from manipulative hands. It was nice to see how others may act differently in the same situation.

I also enjoyed the message of this book: be proud of being different. We all have our unique differences that bring us all together. That and how some people really do not change, and that’s not a good thing. This book has a great message for kids to grow up with.

There are content warnings of child abuse, constant misgendering, and manipulation. But they tackle the big topics well, explain that healing is never easy, and give hope to a brighter future. It’s done in a well-written way that I would’ve loved to read as a kid.

My main critique would be how a part of the book slowed to an awkward pace for a bit before picking up again. Like the story didn’t have direction as much for a chapter or two, but it was quickly solved.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I’d recommend it.

Score: 9.2/10
Average rating on Goodreads: 4.79/5

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