THE CURSE OF THE PHOENIX by Aimée Carter
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Zac has always suspected that his father took a job that kept him away from home all week because he couldn’t handle the stress of Zac’s allergies and medical issues, but now Zac knows for certain. Since their mom died, it’s his twin sister, Lu, who’s been helping him with his medications and his inhalers, and after an officially vicious asthma attack, his dad finally announces that he’s sending Zac away–Zac and Lu, actually–to live with an aunt they’ve never heard of in England.
When they arrive on their family’s land, however, something immediately takes Zac and Lu’s mind off their father. Their mother’s relatives live on a vast estate called the Wildewoods where they are caretakers for the animals. Not normal animals, but dragons, unicorns, mermaids, and even a phoenix! As Zac and Lu explore the magical kingdom, they suddenly feel closer to their mother than they’ve ever been, realizing that all the stories she told them as children were actually true. Unfortunately, they also discover a terrible secret about the cause of their mother’s death and an ancient curse that could doom them–either to a life without the father they’re still missing or to an early death themselves. But Zac and Lu have always been partners in crime, and they’re determined to break the curse before it breaks them.
This family-focused, imaginative middle grade fantasy will appeal to animal lovers and mythology lovers–and anyone who likes a good adventure story! Even though it’s not based on single specific mythology, I’d put this one in the hands of Riordan fans, Fablehaven fans, and fans of brother/sister adventures.