The Invisible Tower: Otherworld Chronicles, Book 1

Book review by
Barbara Lawrence, Common Sense Media
The Invisible Tower: Otherworld Chronicles, Book 1 Book Poster Image
King Arthur meets gamers in action-packed series start.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Invisible Tower is based on the King Arthur legends, but author Nils Johnson-Shelton takes liberties in developing the Athurian characters. Readers new to the story will learn about King Arthur's court. Those familiar with the Arthur legends may enjoy the reinterpretation of these famous characters. 

Positive Messages

Artie Kingfisher and his sister Kay start on a quest to save the world. Through their experiences, they transform from gaming teens to nobility with the courage and honor that goes along with it. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

An average kid who's often bullied at school, Artie Kingfisher finds inner strength when he is sent on a dangerous quest to save the world, free the imprisoned magician Merlin, and dispose of some dangerous creatures along the way. Although he comes by his skills and expertise magically rather then by years of training, he uses them to help the world and his loyal subjects. Artie also shows compassion to many creatures he encounters in his quest and uses his newfound magic to heal. 


There's a lot of violence in The Invisible Tower, as Artie and Kay fight dire wolves, dragons, and all sorts of mythical creatures. Although the descriptions are not overly graphic, limbs get severed and blood is spilt. A severed hand plays a pivotal role in Artie's quest. 


There's a subtle suggestion of an affair between Merlin and a water nymph centuries ago. 


Swearing is limited to "freaking," "fudge," and "bull." 


The Invisible Tower is based on a fictitious video game, Otherworld, but Artie and Kay play other real video games such as Call of Duty and Fallout. There's a lot of focus on Mountain Dew, which is not allowed in the Kingfisher house but used as a special reward. Gamers are called "Dr. Pepper Heads."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There's no alcohol in this story with the exception of wee Tom Thumb drinking what appears to be beer out of a thimble.  

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Otherworld Chronicles: The Invisible Tower is an action-packed adventure story with battles against fight dire wolves, dragons, and all sorts of mythical creatures. The battles are designed to be similar to the first-person video games that main characters Kay and Artie are obsessed with. There's some blood and gore (limbs get severed and blood is spilt; a severed hand plays a pivotal role in Artie's quest), but in general the violence is mild. There are also some more mature themes here: Kay is abandoned by her mother at an early age, when Artie is brought to live with the Kingfishers by Merlin. How being abandoned has affected Kay is explored later in the book. Qwon, a teen friend, is kidnapped and taken to Otherworld, and readers will need to read the next book in the Otherworld Chronicles to find out what happens to Qwon. 

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What's the story?

Avid gamer Artie Kingfisher starts getting messages in his favorite video game, Otherworld, only to find out that his destiny is to save the world from disaster. When he meets Mr. T (aka Merlin), he discovers that he's a clone of the original King Arthur and his quest is to venture into Otherworld. Merlin also helps him to claim Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. Well equipped, Artie, along with his older sister Kay and a few other trusted knights, faces challenges in Otherworld such as a ferocious she-wolf, tornadoes, an evil witch and a dragon, all to bring back the key that will unlock Merlin from his imprisonment in the invisible tower.

Is it any good?

Full of action and adventure, OTHERWORLD CHRONICLES: THE INVISIBLE TOWER will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan, King Arthur, and/or gamers. The action is fun and the violence not too gruesome. The characters are funny, wisecracking teens who rise to the challenge to save the world. Ultimately, this is an easy reading book, a perfect summer read for teens. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what teens learn from video games. Can some games be educational and informative as well as entertaining?

  • Even though his sister, the loyal Sir Kay, plays second fiddle to King Artie, Kay is a smart brave teen who faces danger alongside her brother. Families can talk about gender stereotypes in media and how girls are portrayed. 

  • Why do the centuries-old King Arthur legends remain so popular in books and movies? What others books or movies have you encountered that draw on or update them? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and video games

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