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Book review: 'Wrath of the Storm' concludes trilogy with magic, suspense, battle for family in ancient Rome

"MARK OF THE THIEF, No. 3: Wrath of the Storm," by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Scholastic, $7.99, 343 pages (f) (ages 8 and up)

"Wrath of the Storm," the concluding book in the Mark of the Thief trilogy published by Scholastic, is a suspenseful roller coaster ride likely to keep middle grade readers up past their bedtime.

In the series, Nicolas Calva was once a slave but now possesses a magic bulla, or amulet, of the Malice of Mars and the ability to create a Jupiter Stone. All the powers of Rome want Nic to use his magic do their bidding, but Nic is only concerned with saving his family and friends from the evil Mistress.

Caught between government villains, mythical gods, loyalty to his family and friends, Nic will need magic to survive. However, magic alone won't help Nic create the happy ending he wants for his family— he will need friends like Aurelia who is both beautiful and talented.

The book is a historical fantasy written from Nic's perspective and begins with Nic trapped in a life-threatening predicament, which the author skillfully uses as an opportunity to catch the reader up. Although it can be read as a stand-alone novel, readers will likely enjoy the story more if they begin with the first two books in the series, "Mark of the Thief" and "Rise of the Wolf."

Author Jennifer A. Nielsen, who has had books on the New York Times best-sellers lists, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Wrath of the Storm" is a finalist in the middle grade category for the 2017 Whitney Awards, which recognize books by LDS authors.

The "Wrath of the Storm," which was recently released in paperback, has clean language, and there is some kissing and talk of marriage that is shared in an age-appropriate way. Although there are fast-moving battle scenes, the author describes them in a way that is appropriate for young readers.

Shannon Symonds, author of "Safe House" released July 2017 by Cedar Fort, has 15 years experience working as an advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence while raising six children in Seaside, Oregon.