Legends of the Lost Causes Series by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester

What I Loved About This Series:

The adventure and excitement in Legends of Lost Causes Series was perfect for middle-grade readers! I loved the mixture of old west location and fantasy creatures. It created an excellent story that a young reader would love!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester

How I Felt:

Legends of the Lost Causes features Keech and Sam, two orphans living in the wild west. The time frame and bad-guys for this book make it extremely unique. Set in the 1850s, it has that old feel, yet there are zombie-ish outlaws and magic. The two together created this amazing adventure that I’m sure little readers will love.

The story was fast-paced and jumped into the action right from the beginning. As an adult reader, I appreciate an exciting start to get me into the story, and I know children will like that as well!

Overall, Legends of the Lost Causes is an exciting fantasy-adventure for middle-grade children. I would recommend this book for readers that are a bit more mature as there is death and loss as well as some spooky/evil aspects.

The Plot:

The first book in a new middle-grade fantasy action-adventure series set in the Old West.

A band of orphan avengers. A cursed stone. A horde of zombie outlaws. This is Keech Blackwood’s new life after Bad Whiskey Nelson descends upon the Home for Lost Causes and burns it to the ground.

With his home destroyed and his family lost, Keech will have to use the lessons he learned from Pa Abner to hunt down the powerful Char Stone. Luckily, he has the help of a ragtag team of orphans. Together, they’ll travel through treacherous forests, fight off the risen dead, and discover that they share mysterious bonds as they try to track down the legendary stone. Now, it’s a race against the clock, because if Bad Whiskey finds the stone first. . . . all is lost.

  • Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester
  • Series: Legends of the Lost Causes, Book 1
  • Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
  • Page Count: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (Macmillan)
  • Pub Date: February 20, 2018

Where to Find This Book:

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester is available at these sites.

Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Goodreads


Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Fang of Bonfire Crossing by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester

How I Felt:

The Fang of Bonfire Crossing builds on the world created in book 1, Legends of the Lost Causes. The authors have done an excellent job of continuing this wonderful story. I loved the world-building. The descriptions are fabulous and completely draw the reader into the story.

This series is a bit darker, and I appreciate that. It’s got some scary parts that really do get you on the edge of your seat. The action barely gives you a chance to breathe, making it hard to stop reading this book! It’s truly a “Just One More Chapter” book.

Content Warning: This does have some scary scenes. I would recommend this for children that a bit more mature to avoid being too scared.

Overall, The Fang of Bonfire Crossing is an exciting second book in this series! With more magic and adventure, I know that readers will enjoy it! While this is a middle-grade book, adults will love it as well!

The Plot: Dark magic meets the Old West in this middle-grade adventure series.

Keech Blackwood and his band of fellow orphans demand justice for their fallen families. But the road to retribution is a long and hard-fought journey.

After defeating Bad Whiskey Nelson, the man who burned Keech’s home to the ground, the Lost Causes have a new mission: find Bonfire Crossing, the mysterious land that holds clues to the whereabouts of the all-powerful Char Stone. Along the way they’ll have to fend off a shapeshifting beast, a swarm of river monsters, and a fearsome desperado named Big Ben Loving who conjures tornadoes out of thin air. It’s an epic standoff between the Lost Causes and the outlaw Reverend Rose, a powerful sorcerer who would be unstoppable with the Stone in his possession.

With the world—and vengeance—hanging in the balance, the Lost Causes are ready for battle.

  • The Fang of Bonfire Crossing by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester
  • Series: Legends of the Lost Causes, Book 2
  • Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
  • Page Count: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • Pub Date: February 19, 2019

Where to Find This Book:

The Fang of Bonfire Crossing by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester is available at these sites.

Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Goodreads


Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Key of Skeleton Peak by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester

How I Felt:

The finale of this series was so wonderful! The Key of Skeleton Peak lived up to every one of my expectations. The characters have really grown into themselves. They are friends from start to end, and I believe it is an excellent example for children.

This book had all the action and adventure a child (or adult) could want from a fantasy book. There are evil beings to beat, magic, exciting, and action-packed, scenes, and friends that stick together. I really enjoyed the book from start to finish, and I am just so impressed with the authors for their fabulous world-building and character development in this story.

Overall, The Key of Skeleton Peak was such an exciting conclusion to the Legends of the Lost Causes Series. I would recommend this for any middle-grade reader that is almost leaning into YA, as the boys are getting a bit older, and the book jumped up an additional 100 pages in page count. This is a wonderful series for children, but adults will enjoy it as well!

The Plot:

Dark magic meets the Old West in this third installment of the Legends of the Lost Causes, as a group of vigilante orphans go head-to-head against an outlaw sorcerer in pursuit of an ancient and powerful magical artifact!

Keech Blackwood and his fellow Lost Causes have won their share of battles, but the war against the ruthless sorcerer Reverend Rose still rages on.

This time, the Lost Causes face their most perilous trial yet: stopping Rose and his henchmen from retrieving an ancient, powerful object that would help return him to his full, frightening strength. As the vigilante orphans race to the dangerous depths of Skeleton Peak, the sight of the magical object, they’ll have to outmaneuver Rose’s most faithful—and menacing—ally: an inhuman creature spawned by darkness and shadow. But ever in pursuit of justice and vengeance for their fallen families, the Lost Causes won’t give up without a fight.

  • The Key of Skeleton Peak by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester
  • Series: Legends of the Lost Causes, Book 3
  • Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
  • Page Count: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • Pub Date: March 17, 2020

Where to Find This Book:

The Key of Skeleton Peak by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester publishes on March 17, 2020 and is available at these sites.

Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Goodreads | BAM | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes and Noble | Walmart

Born and raised in Arkansas, Brad McLelland spent several years working as a crime journalist in the South before earning his MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University.

A part-time drummer and singer, Brad lives in Oklahoma with his wife, stepdaughter, a mini-Aussie who gives hugs, and a chubby cat who begs for ham.


Louis Sylvester is a professor at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. He earned his PhD from Oklahoma State University.

Louis enjoys playing tabletop games from his collection of over 1,000 card and board games, watching western films, reading fantasy novels, and spending time with his wife and two dogs.

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I was provided a copy of this book for free. I am leaving my honest, unbiased review voluntarily.

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