There is probably not a single person out there who read and didn’t like «Harry Potter». J.K. Rowling created one of the most innovative fantasy stories of her time. When it was first released, I was only 6 years old and it was much later, when the story was finally translated to Russian and I was of age to read it that I picked it up.
Everyone talked about it, everyone watched the movies and waited years for the conclusion of this epic adventure.
Right about that time, another author, Russian author created something thoroughly similar to my beloved series – Tanya Grotter. I don’t think it was ever translated to English and probably would not be allowed because of the similarities. But! I loved it! This “new” series filled in the time while I was waiting for the release of the new Harry Potter book. It was heavy on Russian folklore, had all the references from fairy tales I grew up listening to, had an amazing humor and the main protagonist was a girl! I still wish I had those books with me to be able to reread from time to time!
I love books inspired by Harry Potter but that also bring something new to the picture. When I was approached by Shaun Hume wondering if I would wish to read and review his book, I was honored (still am) and delighted to emerge myself, once again, in a familiar setting of Harry Potter inspired tales. Thank you, Shaun, for the free copy of this novel!
Ewan Pendle was weird. Really weird. At least, that’s what everyone told him. Then again, being able to see monsters that no one else could wasn’t exactly normal …
Thinking he has been moved off to live with his eleventh foster family, Ewan is instead told he is a Lenitnes, one of an ancient race of peoples who can alone see the real ‘Creatures’ which inhabit the earth. He is taken in by Enola, the mysterious sword carrying Grand Master of Firedrake Lyceum, a labyrinth of halls and rooms in the middle of London where other children, just like Ewan, go to learn the ways of the Creatures.
First and I think most importantly, Shaun Hume writes like no-one else does. If, one day, I decide to write my own novel (which is hardly going to happen) I wish I would be able to have the same ease of the pen to put my thoughts on the paper.
Each character has their own personality and the manner of speech, and all of my praise goes to incredible writing skills and the ability to switch from 12-year-old, simplistic sentences to more elaborate and careful word choice by the Masters, to the formal and business-like speech of newspaper articles.
It was truly a pleasant experience to read this novel.
The second thing I would like to point out is of course the similarities with the Harry Potter series. Ewan is an orphan, he doesn’t know about the magic world, he thinks himself weird because he can see creatures no-one else sees.
- There is Mathilde who reminded me of Hermione in a way that she was good in most of the subjects, but she was far from being a copy of Hermione.
- There is the Ikin family that resembled the big and loud family of Ron Wisley so much .
- There are multiple cliques that remind slightly of Hogwarts houses.
- But other than that, the whole story is very different. The magic itself, if I can call it that, is different. Not everyone can do spells and there is a more focused approach to Martial arts and battling weapons.
Even though the story feels familiar, it is not and I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out all the new terms and claques and sessions, etc. I must admit that it was a little bit confusing, because of complexity of this world and I am still not sure if I know all of them.
Also, considering that the main protagonist turns 12 years old as the story progresses, this book is probably directed to a younger audience and might even be categorized as Middle Grade. However, the book is very chunky for younger readers, in my opinion.
I know some publishers establish a maximum number of words for the first books in the series or just for books in general, and even though sometimes it can be very restricting, I think they know what audience is looking for and how to captivate their attention without overdoing it.
This is also the point where Editors play a big role. Some of the parts of the book had too much description and some scenes felt unnecessary as they didn’t contribute towards the main storyline, while we were left with hundreds of unanswered questions.
After these rambly thoughts, here is a small chart of things that worked and didn’t work for me!
⭐⭐ / 5
Two-star rating for me often means that I enjoyed the book but it could be improved or that the amount of negative things overtook the positives, which is the case here.
But all reviews are subjective and I would still recommend you to pick this book up if you are going through a Harry Potter withdrawal and are longing for something whimsical!