Heartwarming Middle-Grade Book Alert: Quintessence by Jess Redman

Perseverance has proven to be something I need to master in terms of life in general and also reading. After choosing to ignore the urge to give up and deciding to keep going instead, I managed to finish A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman three reads ago with a very satisfying conclusion.

With that being said, a similar situation was issued by a different book from an entirely different genre earlier this week. While the chapters were mostly short, Quintessence by Jess Redman turned out a little hard to go through at first as the story seemed to be pretty slow-moving. However, I'm thankful that I once again opted for another chance. As the story progressed, I eventually started to feel the warmth I usually feel every time I read a good middle-grade book.

Quintessence follows the story of Alma Lucas who has just moved to the town of Four Points due to her parents' job. In addition to not being great at acclimating, Alma finds herself going through regular panic attacks that her parents aren't aware of. However, her life suddenly gets a lot more interesting when she meets a strange shop keeper from a strange shop called Fifth Point. The lonely Alma is suddenly joining the Astronomy Club in which she makes not only one but two new friends named Hugo and Shirin. Moreover, Alma realizes that she has just witnessed something impossible in the form of a falling star that looks like a child, crashing in her backyard. With that, an adventure of elements begins and she can finally feel her Alma-ness again.

As told in the premise, Quintessence was a book full of elements, science, and self-discovery with a little touch of fantasy here and there. While science was something quite remarkable in this book, I found the development in the self-discovery part worth mentioning also. Experiencing this book from Alma's point of view made me want to like her for being tough. She didn't let her fear control her even when she was forced to experience a lot of ups and downs in the process. Her journey to overcome her anxiety and discover her true self touched me, and while I could relate to how hard it was to adapt to what seemed to be an entirely new life, I couldn't stop thinking about how great of a choice the word Alma-ness was.

Shirin and Hugo were such great friends and thus I was thankful for their existence in Alma's life. Along with the fact that their friendship was pretty slow-built and adorable, I found their midnight adventures so much fun. The quests they had to go through in order to collect all the elements were brave and reckless and overall the most interesting part out of all.

As opposed to the fun, it was also a challenge to deal with the anxiety of them getting caught (please skip this part if you haven't read the book yet) which they truly did at some point. As a punishment, Alma's parents went as far as to lock her window in addition to Alma being grounded though she was still able to sneak out twice using the front door. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hope for her to do things otherwise but didn't it seem too easy? If I were her parent, I would most likely hide the key in my room to prevent another round of sneaking out.

In the end, it wasn't much of a big deal though. The pace got so much faster once the adventure had begun and it turned out great. I especially liked the idea of mixing astronomy and fantasy, the magical container which in it kept the elements, and even the backstory of the shopkeeper himself. In conclusion, I will be more than eager to pick up another book by Jess Redman in the future.

Quintessence was overall a heartwarming tale with a mystical setting and a lovely ending. If you love middle-grade books with a magical atmosphere like The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle or The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell, I suggest that you give this book a try too. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as you do the cover.

Actual rating: 4.3★