Apollo Salvatoir: Positive Kirkus Review

Kirkus is one of the most important and sought-after reviews in the publishing industry. This is because Kirkus has a reputation for being honest, and often downright brutal. They do not hold back. They are known for calling a spade a spade. It is for this reason that authors seek out these reviews and book industry professionals trust their opinions.

Getting a Kirkus review takes several weeks, and can be a nail-biting time. In my case, I have been anxious as the process went forward. I submitted my book to Kirkus in early March. Right when it was published. While I waited, I prepared myself for the possibility of a bad review. If they didn’t like it, I told myself it isn’t the end of the world. It is just one opinion. After all, I currently have 66 reviews on Amazon, of which 76% are 5 stars and 18% are 4 stars. A total of 94% giving me this high rating.

However, I am thankful that Kirkus came back with a positive review! Because in all honesty, it would have been very difficult for me to maintain the illusion that I didn’t care what Kirkus thought of my book! The notification came on my phone while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC. I was walking in a Swap Meet with my parents, children, and grandchildren. When it came, I of course, immediately opened it on the spot, and was overwhelmed by gratitude.

A positive review opens many doors for my book. It makes it much easier to convince others in the industry to give my book a chance.

“In this YA martial arts adventure, a boy in a remote temple trains for greatness while unaware of his family’s true nature.

Eleven-year-old Apollo Salvatoir lives in San Francisco. His father, William, is a successful businessman while his mother, Tayleigh, died in a car accident two months ago. Apollo loves gymnastics and his best friend, 11-year-old Tan Ling. When classes at Willoughby’s Academy break for the summer, Apollo’s busy father allows his cruel assistant and lover, Jamie Plover, to care for his son. The physically abusive woman calls Apollo “nothing but a dog.” Apollo and Ling eventually film Jamie’s abuse with a cellphone to expose her. But Jamie catches them, spoiling the plan and triggering Apollo’s transfer to an “exclusive private school” in rural China. At the strange school, the other children wear color-coded robes and treat Apollo like an inconsequential gerbil. Apollo soon comes under the tutelage of the instructor Shīfŭ Hui, who tells him: “The feet of a dragon stand firm against evil, walking toward and never away from duty.” Meanwhile, Ling, whose father, Tan Far, considers her an embarrassment, sends her to the Chinese village of Xitanxiang, where she’ll attend a school. Ling and Apollo soon become trapped in a familial rivalry between two martial arts sects, the White Dragons and the Black Dragons. Bertoch gives YA and advanced middle-grade readers a well-crafted, unvarnished adventure that follows the chosen one format. Chapters begin with paragraphs of wisdom from The Book of the Wyvern Spirits, explaining the humble beginnings of the legendary figure that Apollo will become, Shā-Shŭ, and including inspirational passages like “Each of us has a role to play, and the world is better when we reach without fear toward it.” Apollo is a great role model for readers, as he helps the aging Lanfen in the school’s kitchen. The abuse he suffers is graphic, as when Jamie strikes “Apollo across the chest.” While other YA fare might include fanciful elements like magic to balance harsher themes, the author forgoes anything that might soften his message of braving a dangerous world. Finding a new family is what saves Apollo.

A well-written, absorbing martial arts tale best suited for older YA audiences.”

Kirkus Reviews