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Book Review

The Call by Michael Grant has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Magnificent 12” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Twelve-year-old David “Mack” MacAvoy is afraid of almost everything, and he can’t seem to avoid the bullies at Richard Gere Middle School. When he saves the life of the head bully, Stefan, he gains a friend and protector. But on the same day, a strange, stinky old man in a black robe named Grimluk appears to the boys and changes their lives.

Periodic chapters return the reader to “a really, really long time ago” and tell the story of a 12-year-old boy named Grimluk. Grimluk had a wife, a nameless son and two cows when he began to flee the Pale Queen. Grimluk was chosen as a member of a group called the Magnifica, which was charged with capturing the Pale Queen and her daughter. The Magnifica managed to trap the queen underground for several thousand years, but her daughter, Ereskigal (Risky), continues to cause trouble for the world, even in Mack’s time.

Back in present day, Grimluk says Mack is one of the modern-day Magnifica and has been chosen to round up the other 11 kids his age who can help subdue the queen and princess indefinitely. A man in a green suit follows Mack, and a living replica of Mack, made of dirt, shows up in Mack’s room. The replica is called a golem. Mack learns the golem will serve as a placeholder for him while he’s off on his mission.

A woman named Rose arrives in a limo and rescues Mack and Stefan from Risky’s giant grasshoppers. Rose gives the boys new passports with new names, iPhones and a credit card with a balance of $1 million for incidentals. Then she puts them on a plane to Australia to find another Magnifica member.

Risky and her creatures attack Mack and Stefan’s plane in the air over the ocean, and the boys are sucked from the cabin. As they’re falling, Mack utters one of the strange phrases he heard Grimluk say. He and Stefan are suspended in midair for a period of time, discussing their next move.

This stop slowed them down enough to hit the water without injury. They swim to a boat, driven by a journalist named Peter Major. His daughter, Jarrah, also on the boat, is the girl Mack and Stefan are supposed to find.

Jarrah and her archaeologist mother, Karri, take Mack and Stefan to a dig on a massive rock. Inside are cave drawings that appear to have been made thousands of years earlier and tell the future. The four are captured by elves. To escape, they flee into the recesses of the cave.

Risky appears and threatens them. They escape through a tunnel and get back to Karri’s car. As they’re driving off, a storm blows in that sends outback animals flying through the air. The car wrecks, and Karri is hurt. Risky moves close to Mack, magically pulling him into a kiss of death. At the last moment, he uses a spell to set Risky on fire. She becomes a pillar of smoke and disappears. They know she isn’t gone for good.

Mack, Stefan and Jarrah fly to China to locate their next teammate. Periodically, Mack receives humorous messages from his golem relaying the ways the golem’s well-intentioned but weird behavior is off-putting to the school administrators and Mack’s parents.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Jarrah and her mother are convinced the cave markings they’ve found predict the future. Mack learns to use spells in the Vargran tongue. The queen and princess have shapeshifting abilities. The forest is full of werewolves, spirits, gnomes and elves. Grimluk and his wife carry the clay family goddess Gordia when they flee, along with other prized possessions.

Authority Roles

Mack’s parents made him talk to school counselors, shrinks and ministers. When they couldn’t figure out how to help him, they learned to steer around him and stopped really listening to him. Jarrah’s parents involve her in their adventures. The Pale Queen terrorizes a kingdom and has a tense relationship with her daughter.


The words butt and OMG appear. Stefan receives an injury when he punches his fist though glass. There's a lot of blood. Jarrah slices through Risky’s neck with a shovel, but the evil princess pushes her head back into place with ease. Some of the other fleers Grimluk meets don’t have their full number of arms and legs and have horrible wounds or scars. Risky bites the head off a giant insect, and green fluid spews out as she chews it up.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12


Michael Grant






Record Label



Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


On Video

Year Published





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