Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Taken, The Elders & The Mage by Inbali Iserles - Book Reviews, Interview & Giveaway

Reviews by Suze

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Isla and her brother Pirie are close. They're always together and their bond is strong. They are living close to the furless, humans, and know they should stay away from them. There are many dangers in the world, but Isla feels safe in the den with her family. This changes when she returns to their den and finds complete chaos. Her family is no longer there and Isla is on her own. There's nobody to look after her and she doesn't know what happened to her family. The only thing she does know is that her brother Pirie is alive. They share a connection and via Foxcraft, a natural gift that they aren't particularly skilled at yet, it's sometimes possible to communicate for a short moment. Isla is determined to find Pirie and starts her search.

Isla needs help if she wants to find her brother. She doesn't know enough Foxcraft to survive on her own. She meets Siffrin, a young fox who seems to be able to teach her and might be willing to help, but can he be trusted? Who's he working with and will he be able to help Isla with her search? Isla has to conquer many fears and run for her life several times to stay ahead of her enemies. The Taken are cunning and always seem to find out where she is, will she survive?

The Taken is an action-packed story about a brave and clever fox. Isla has a good heart, she's a true survivor and she's willing to learn as much as she can if it helps her to reach her goals. I immediately loved her. She's a fantastic main character and reading about her put a big smile on my face. She has spunk and spirit and that's exactly what she needs for her mission to have a chance at success. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out where the search for her brother would lead her. She meets plenty of dangers along the way and I was fascinated by her journey from beginning to end.

Inbali Iserles has created a fantastic world. I love how she gives her foxes their own words for things like the city, the highway, humans and the river. It makes her story extra fun and credible. I love stories about animals and am a big fan of foxes. I also really like stories about magic, so I immediately fell in love with the subject of Foxcraft. It's an interesting combination and it works very well. Inbali Iserles skillfully describes life seen through the eyes of a fox and I greatly admired the way she does this. The Taken is a fantastic enchanting story.

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Isla's Foxcraft skills are starting to improve. She has plenty of Maa, which is the energy and essence of all living things and necessary to be good at Foxcraft. She needs her skills, as her enemies are constantly hunting her. There are others who have lost their family as well and Isla is no longer on her own. She still wants to find Pirie and has an idea where he should be. While traveling through the forest Isla is looking for someone who can help her. She also has to stay away from the fox who enslaves others and makes them do his bidding, all would be lost if she'd fall into his hands.

Isla thinks the Elders, a group of wise foxes with exceptional Foxcraft skills, should be able to help her. She needs to find them, so she can continue her mission. They might know more about her brother's whereabouts too. Isla keeps getting hints from Pirie, but he's trying to warn her against those who have taken him at the same time. Will she be able to make the progress she so desperately needs and will she find a way to stay out of the claws of the enemy?

The Elders is a terrific story about magic, dangerous animals and friendship. I was impressed by Isla's bravery and her creativity. She always manages to rescue herself. She learns something new every single day, which is one of the reasons she manages to survive. Everything is scary, but she faces her fears and deals with them. She tries to make friends, but she doesn't know who's safe and who isn't and it isn't always easy to find out who she should and shouldn't rely on. Finding out if she'd be able to complete her mission kept me on the edge of my seat.

Inbali Iserles has written another fantastic Foxcraft story. Her world building skills are mesmerizing. I love how she can really put herself into an animal's position, which makes her story gripping and exciting. I was captivated by her vivid descriptions of every new thing Isla encounters. She describes the dangers in a suspenseful way and knows how to build tension. The Foxcraft series is an amazing mix of magic, bravery and loyalty, which is something I absolutely loved.

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Isla travels to the cold Snowlands to find her brother Pirie. Here she has to deal with wolves, that are no friends of foxes, but Isla has made a useful connection that will save her life. Isla's knowledge of Foxcraft is what keeps her out of harm's way over and over again. She's incredibly skilled at it and every time someone explains a new trick she masters it in no time. She needs to if she wants to survive and save herself and the other foxes from the Taken.

Isla has the Elders on her side, but that might not be enough to stay ahead of the fox that calls himself the Mage. The Mage enslaves other foxes. He's preparing to summon an ancient power, something that should stay dormant and shouldn't be released. The Elders need Isla's help in their fight against him, but she also should find her brother. Is there a link between both missions and will Isla eventually succeed or has her search been in vain? Will the Mage win or can he be stopped?

The Mage is another brilliant story about the beautiful brave Isla. Isla is growing up. She can stand up for herself, she's becoming smarter every day and she can take care of both herself and others. I was impressed by her progress and the way she uses her powers. Isla has learned a lot on her travels and she's a formidable fox now. This put a big smile on my face. She's a wonderful main character and I really enjoyed reading about her adventures once more.

Inbali Iserles has written such a fabulous series. The magical aspect of The Mage is amazing. I was thrilled that there are so many great scenes about this topic and I enjoyed every single one of them. Isla has to fight against a mysterious enemy and this time she has several allies. She is no longer alone and this aspect of the story is heartwarming. The overall vibe is incredible and that is something I enjoyed so much. I also loved the ending of the story, it's fitting, spectacular and moving at the same time. The Mage is a gorgeous finale of a stunning series, I highly recommend the Foxcraft books.


If you love animals and magic you don't want to miss the Foxcraft series. The books are meant for the 8-12 age category, but I find them suitable for anyone and think they can be read by every reader who enjoys fantasy. I'd advise you to read the books in their correct order if you want to understand the full story.

About Inbali Iserles

Inbali Iserles is an award-winning author and an irrepressible animal lover. She is one of the team of authors behind the New York Times bestselling SURVIVORS series, who write under the pseudonym Erin Hunter. Her first book, THE TYGRINE CAT, won the 2008 Calderdale Children's Book of the Year Award.

FOXCRAFT is Inbali's latest series. In a starred review, Kirkus found THE TAKEN (FOXCRAFT #1) "Beautifully rendered and magical." THE ELDERS (FOXCRAFT #2) is out fall 2016. Play the Foxcraft game and find out more about the series at:

Inbali lives in Cambridge, England, with her family, including her principal writing mascot, Michi, who looks like an Arctic fox and acts like a cat, but is in fact a dog.


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1) Can you tell a bit about yourself?

I was born in Israel, which accounts for the unusual name, though I moved with my family to Cambridge, England when I was three. What anyone who knows me will tell you is that I’m a huge animal lover. I spent summers with my grandparents on a northerly Israeli kibbutz. When my granny took her siesta I would sneak out with my sister and feed stray cats. When I was 11 going on 12 I spent a striking year in Tucson, Arizona, a city surrounded by desert in western America. Tucson was alive with wild animals like snakes, coyotes and cotton tailed bunnies. It was incredible! Back home in Cambridge you were lucky to see a wood pigeon!

2) You’ve lived in different countries and like to travel, how has that influenced your writing?

Travel has influenced my writing a great deal. It has inspired locations, such as the forests and fjords of the Wildlands in Foxcraft: The Elders, which were based on Norway’s fjorlands. It was also influenced the characters in my stories. For instance, after spending time in New Zealand I became interested in local Maori culture and customs. I drew on these warrior traditions in developing wolf culture for Foxcraft: The Mage. Like the Maoris, the wolves have a strong sense of family and respect for their ancestors. There are other, more subtle ways that travel has an affect on my writing - life on the move, away from home, is far less predictable. And it is in this absence of routine - in the unexpected colours, smells and sounds - that inspiration is often found.

3) You write about animals with special powers, how did you get the idea to do that?

Foxcraft was inspired by the urban foxes who lived near my flat when I lived in London. I would see them when I walked my dog and never ceased to feel the thrill that comes with proximity to a wild animal. Foxes are a familiar sight in cities and rural settings around the world, yet they are among the most misunderstood creatures of all. Branded as villains, tricksters and cheats in folklore and children’s books, I was determined to redress the balance. Fox magic - called “foxcraft” in the series - was drawn from fox behaviour. So, for example, foxes have an incredible knack for disappearing - hence “slimmering”, a form of invisibility. They are able to squeeze into tight spots, to bend with incredible flexibility, seemingly to alter their characters - hence “wa’akkir”, the shapeshifting foxcraft, also inspired by Japanese legends.

4) What do you love the most about foxes?

Foxes are beautiful, intelligent animals - sensitive and fleet of foot, a cross between a dog and a cat. They are less aggressive than dogs and wolves and still surprisingly social. I find them utterly enchanting.

5) What’s the best thing about writing about animals?

For me, it is thrilling to see the world through the eyes of other creatures. To a human, a road is a means of getting somewhere, or a minor irritation to be crossed. To foxes it’s the deathway, a treacherous place where darting manglers with burning eyes pound over the hard earth, seeking their kill. Running on four paws, digging, playing like a fox - it’s as close as I can come to actually shapeshifting myself!

6) What does magic mean to you?

Interesting question! Magic is the possibility of something beyond our immediate reality - a gateway from the ordinary and mundane to adventure, jeopardy, excitement. It’s a parallel existence where the powerless find new capabilities, where the limits of perception, empathy and experience can be explored.

7) In what way are animals part of your everyday life?

I have always had pets. When I was growing up, I had (at various times) cats, rabbits, a guinea pig, gerbils, hamsters and fish. More recently I’ve had degus - exotic rodents that I adopted from a shelter - and my sweet writing mascot, Michi. Michi is a Japanese Spitz who looks a lot like an Arctic fox! As I write this, he is fast asleep by my feet.

8) Can you tell a bit more about the beautiful drawings in your Foxcraft books?

Thank you! I haven’t illustrated any of my stories before, but when Scholastic saw my fox doodles they asked if I would be interested in providing chapter icons and endpapers for Foxcraft (the endpapers appear in the US hardback edition). I was absolutely thrilled! The drawings represent the foxcrafts - the different types of fox magic - and the three distinct locations where the story unfolds: the Graylands (the city), the Wildlands (the countryside) and the Snowlands (the frozen wilds of the far north).

9) How do you handle the research for your animal stories?

Research is very important for me. I usually start by reading a great deal. So, with Foxcraft, I read what I could about fox behaviour (there is surprisingly little out there), and books about the fox in myth and folklore around the world. I spent a lot of time going on “fox safari” in the streets where I lived in central London, spotting our wild local residents, taking notes and photos. I was fortunate to be able to visit The Fox Project rescue centre and meet orphaned fox cubs. They were absolutely gorgeous! The staff at Fox Project had lots of fascinating insights about fox behaviour, which I drew on for the books. Finally, I had an animal expert read the books in draft form - she always pointed out if my foxes were too wolf-like, dog-like or cat-like. I was committed to keeping them as foxy as possible!

10) What are your plans for the future?

I am currently taking a break from animal fantasy to develop a very different kind of story… More on that in due course! I can’t imagine I will keep away for too long, though. I absolutely love writing about animals. I suspect that the wild will call me back soon enough!


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive signed paperback copies of all three books of The Foxcraft series and a Foxcraft badge, bookmark, postcard and temporary tattoo.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. I love foxes, so this looks like a good fantasy series!

  2. The Foxcraft series sounds like a story full of heart, fantasy and adventure to appeal to young readers and adventure-loving adults.

  3. Everything about those covers is beautiful.

  4. The covers are gorgeous! I can't wait to read them.

  5. This sounds like an exciting adventurous series and the covers are amazing- bound to draw readers in.

  6. sounds like a fantastic adventure!

  7. This sounds like a wonderful magical series, would love to read this with my son.

  8. here is her twitter link from her web site

  9. Sounds like an incredible series for young people to read (And I loved the books on insta in other langaugaes)

  10. I'm so glad you showcased these books, With Love For Books! These sound like so much fun! Ones that I would enjoy as well as my three kids. :)

  11. I know that I'd love these books. I think it's marvellous that you drew your own wonderful illustrations, I take my hat off to you! I was lucky enough to watch young foxes at the bottom my son's garden whilst visiting him in Birmingham, marvellous to watch them play with each other.

  12. This sounds like such a brilliant series! I love the map for the world and it really makes me me feel as though this is a series I would truly enjoy!

  13. The covers are great. Would like to see your illustrations inside!

  14. Wow wow wow, these sound really good!! I love animals and I love fantasy, so the combination of the two sounds amazing! My daughter would love these too. :D Really excited!! xx

  15. It sounds great. I love foxes very much

  16. I'd love to share these books with my 10yo daughter, they sound just the sort of books we enjoy - and I love foxes!

  17. Ich Liebe Foxcraft über alles und habe auch Die Legende der Wächter angesehen :) werde es als nächstes lesen :) Ich habe auch eine fanart aus Glas von Foxcraft auf instagram :)

  18. I would love to read this story with my daugter. *fingers crossed*

  19. I always find foxes fascinating, and I'm sure my son and I would enjoy this together!

  20. Beautiful book.I love foxes.We have one that actually comes up and looks through our French window which doesn't impress the dog!

  21. The covers are fabulous. Love foxes.

  22. These would be fun to read with my niece.

  23. I could tell this was by the Erin Hunter people from the covers. My students love those books and I'm sure they'd love these too.

  24. Wow, just look at that cover. It's absolutely stunning. Can't wait to read some of the books too.

  25. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Good luck everyone!

  26. Love this! My son would be in love with these books!