Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts

Updated: Mar 4

As a child of the Harry Potter era, I have a soft spot for stories that follow a similar model of outcast pre-teen who suddenly finds themself in a world of magic they had previously known nothing about. Mix that with Celtic folklore and mythology, and I’m in! Meet Kelcie Murphy, a girl who has been in the foster care system so long she has no memory of her parents. Only her case worker seems to care for her at all, so when he reveals his unexpected identity, Kelcie is thrust into a world where every answer she seeks leads to even more questions. Filled with mythological characters, combat, and mystery, this book will appeal to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fans of all ages. Please see my full review below!


Kelcie Murphy might as well be invisible; having grown up in the foster care system and tossed from home to home, she has never found a place where she truly belongs. No matter what trouble she finds herself in, though, her case worker is always there to help her find a new place to land. But when a field trip leads to an unexpected encounter with entities Kelcie otherwise believes to be fictional, she finds herself transported to a world filled with magic where she joins others her age to become trained soldiers. Complex alliances and riveting adventures surround Kelcie as she seeks to discover the truth of her past and who she truly is, and she must dig deep to collaborate with her fianna in order to protect the Lands of Summer from the evil that threatens them.

Following in the footsteps of the Harry Potter series, this book features a magical school where characters are sorted into Dens that connect to their unique abilities. Unlike Harry Potter, though, Kelcie is not sorted into the most popular Den; instead, she is even more ostracized than she was on Earth, and she must prove herself to everyone else in order to secure friendship over animosity. As a child of the foster care system, Kelcie has learned to fend for and rely upon herself, but despite feeling more at home in this new setting, she is still wounded by the ways others treat her. Focused around combat, the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts is a place where Kelcie discovers her inner strength alongside the means of working with others even when doing so is challenging.

Engagingly written, this novel does an excellent job of world building and placing readers inside Kelcie’s experience in the Otherworld. Readers discover Kelcie’s truth in tandem with her, causing the narrative to unfold in a compelling and often surprising way. Though a bit more exposition could benefit the overall plot, especially with Kelcie’s debilitating headaches and her life on Earth, the majority of the narrative flows smoothly and keeps readers’ attention throughout. Characters from Celtic mythology appear beside contemporary adolescents to create a dichotomy that is particularly intriguing and may inspire readers to investigate further once the story ends.

At the end of the book, readers will find a glossary of the new terms used within the narrative, complete with pronunciation guides and definitions of both the terms borrowed from Celtic mythology and those created by the author herself. Within the text, multiple fonts are used to reflect written and telepathic correspondence, enhancing the visual appeal of the book. The text is small and very little white space appears in the printed novel, but the chapters tend to be brief and the action moves quickly enough to maintain readers’ attention. Middle grade readers with a passion for magic and strong female leads will fall for Kelcie Murphy and eagerly await her next adventure.

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