Mightier Than the Sword by Drew Callander, Alana Harrison, Ryan Andrews, and You

Prince S. has been captured by the sadistic Queen Rulette, and only you—yes, YOU—can rescue him. But you won’t be alone. Among the denizens of Astorya, a land where stories from the human world become reality, there’s a cadre of Couriers ready to aid in your quest: a French stoat who knows how to tango, a telepathic chameleon, a ninja with a passion for fire, a Pegasus mixed with a centaur mixed with a sheriff, and an expert navigational dung beetle. But perhaps most importantly, you have your trusty pencil. And with it, you control your own story.

It’s not every day you get to star in your own action-adventure story, but that’s exactly what authors Drew Callander and Alana Harrison offer in their debut novel. Told in second person, the duo have taken all the fun of the classic Choose Your Own Adventure books and cranked the interaction way up. Rather than picking pages to propel the action forward, you’re given the chance to directly make your mark on the tale by adding illustrations, storytelling via fill-in-the-blanks, and even solving puzzles. While there’s a solid structure, there’s also a high level of personalization allowed.

And what a story to drop into. It’s funny. With clever puns, a healthy dose of bathroom humor, and some carefully layered jokes, Callander and Harrison punch up an already breakneck pace with a laugh a minute. Even in the most dangerous of times, whether you’re battling Rubots or confronting a group of outlaws with a unique take on a duel, every joke is mined for all it’s worth. While the world of Astorya might seem fantastically absurd, the authors’s commitment to both the jokes and the concept keeps everything feeling naturally hilarious.

Your drawings go a long way to fleshing out Astorya, but you also get some expert help from Ryan Andrews. Whimsical with a bit of an edge, his illustrations are peppered throughout, giving attractive detail to such a sprawling world. Some of the major, plot-focused illustrations are left up to you, but in a story where anything is possible if it’s written down, your work fits right in.

Mightier Than the Sword manages to get everything right by being daringly original. It sets a new standard for how books can push the boundaries of entertainment and interaction all while being wickedly funny. So take a bow—this is your story, after all.


Title: Mightier Than the Sword
Series: Mightier Than the Sword #1
Author: Drew Callander, Alana Harrison, & You
Illustrator: Ryan Andrews & You
Publisher: Penguin Workshop
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Classification: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Andrews’s Website | Publisher’s Page | Goodreads


Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

6 Comments

  1. Wow, this does take the old Choose Your Own Adventure books to a new level. Fun for all, but possibly an extra hook for the reluctant middle grade reader. Great review, Christopher. I had no idea this was out there.

    Liked by 1 person

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