by J. Philip Horne
Book 1: Joss the Seven
Fourteen-year-old Joss Morgan loves a good prank, but the joke’s on him when he discovers he has superpowers. The Mockers are coming for Joss, and they’ll use any means necessary to force him into a life of crime.
The Guild of Sevens asks Mara to secretly train Joss in his new powers. To fight back against the Mockers, Mara sends him on missions to steal corporate secrets. Fighting crime with crime feels upside down, and soon Joss wonders which side he’s really on.
Then the Mockers show up at his house, and Joss is out of time. He sets up a desperate, high-stakes prank to save his family. If he fails, he won’t end up in the principal’s office. He’ll be six feet under.
“Given the glut of depressing dystopian middle-grade literature these days, Joss the Seven provides a refreshing picture of an imperfect yet healthy family. The main character is forced to explore themes like trust (extending trust as well as meriting it), the responsibility that comes with strength, and the dangerous ignorance inherent in seeking revenge.”
Our 10-year old read and loved this: ‘It was fun and exciting, and I didn’t want to stop reading it; I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. … as fun as Percy Jackson.’ He loved the humor peppered in through recurring jokes.”
“Great action story–with depth!”
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Book 2: Guardian Angel
Joss Morgan barely survived the summer after eighth grade, in spite of—or maybe because of—his superpowers. Now, in the last few days before starting high school, he has a commitment to keep, but he’ll have to defy his parents to do it.
After convincing himself he’s not really being dishonest, Joss gets to work helping a friend in trouble. Unfortunately, Joss’s other superpower kicks into high gear—his ability to create utter chaos for himself and his family. Before long, Joss is wondering if he’ll be alive when high school starts.
Joss turns to his friends for help while trying to figure out how to make things right at home. This time, though, sneaking around isn’t going to be enough. When he realizes the danger he’s caused his family, it’s all out war.
“My seventh-grade son agrees that Volume 2 is a worthy successor (‘another real page-turner,’ he says) to Volume 1 (Joss the Seven). Both are action filled.”
CIR: What inspired this series?
HORNE: Years before I wrote Joss the Seven, I had this idea for a novella with a character that was the seventh son of a seventh son, and I thought I’d play around with that mythology. When I came back to the notes and decided to start writing, the concept had morphed into a full novel, and the seventh son character was a title, a Seven.
CIR: What did you enjoy most about writing this?
HORNE: I’ve never written in the first person before, and I had tremendous fun developing Joss’s voice, and then letting it take me to unexpected places in the story.
CIR: Who is your favorite character and why?
HORNE: I like Joss. He’s my narrator and main character, so that’s a good thing. But I really like Thomas, who is the super-hero side-kick stereotype, but transcends it. I love how Thomas’s interactions with Joss and direct actions ultimately prove so vital to the story, in spite of the fact that Joss, as narrator, down-plays Thomas for most of the book.
CIR: What would you compare this book to?
HORNE: I’ve heard many comments that this book is almost weirdly unique. I’d say it has strong similarities to the wonderful Artemis Fowl books, in that it has strong elements of a crime caper mixed in with the fantastical.