The Storm Runner is mythical for kids, but not necessarily magical for adults


J.C. Cervantes’ first book for the Rick Riordan Presents imprint has a great premise, but it might not enchant a reader that easily.

In some respects, J.C. Cervantes had a harder time than her fellow Rick Riordan Presents writer, Roshani Chokshi, by dealing with a different, lesser-known set of myths in The Storm Runner, sent to me by Disney-Hyperion. Cervantes looks not to Hindu religion and mythology, but rather the Mayans, and one is a slightly more common cultural touchstone than the other.

This means that Zane Obispo has a lot of heavy lifting to do as a main character, because though Aru Shah had to do some exposition, Zane seems to have to do more. Look out for lots of references to a book of Mayan myths that he has read, and you’ll see what I mean.

But that doesn’t mean that Zane is a bad main character. In fact, since he’s someone who uses a cane thanks to having one leg shorter than the other, he seems important in that he’s opening things up for more representation of characters from all walks of life. He’s devoted to his dog, Rosie, and as a young teen, he’s got those bits of hormones showing in his attraction to Brooks, a shape-shifter. Moreover, he’s only half-god, so those similar questions of missing parents come up, too, as do minor looks at what it means to be mixed, albeit a human and god mix. Additionally, he has some serious snark and not always the most heroic nature — which helps set him apart, too.

However, it feels like The Storm Runner has a slower start than Aru Shah and the End of Time, or even the Percy Jackson books that kicked this entire subgenre (and, eventually, the imprint) off. It’s a much thicker book, and though Cervantes thus has a lot of time to unravel the plot, readers used to the faster pacing of similar titles may find this one hard to get into in the same way.

But, all the same, Mayan myth, as promised even in Rick Riordan’s foreword, is particularly fascinating and with a lot of concepts (a skull who ends up fathering the hero twins, the demon names’ translations) that might really pique a kid’s interest.

Next. Review: Pride, Ibi Zoboi. dark

And as this book is for middle-grade readers, that’s important to mention. Older readers who want to dive in, though, might find this less of a fun ride than other titles under the same aegis.