Wednesday, February 2, 2011

endymion spring

Love that spooky, bookish, YA, quest-fantasy drama, with hints of sorcery, and a dab of good vs. evil? Of course you do. Endymion Spring is just that kind of book, and its more than just a great name. Endymion Spring is the first go by Matthew Skelton, who describes the research process he went through, which began as curiosity about this name: Endymion Spring, and grew into the inspiration for the book.

This was a fun and fast read. I think it took me three or four days to burn through this 400 pager. What? That's fast for me. The writing was easy, but not dumbed down. The kids are young, but not specifically aged, probably to appeal to a wider slice of the YA readership. The story is smart too, and based in history, which helps give it some backbone. Faust, Gutenberg (and his bible), Oxford University, and a smattering of other European schools, libraries, and books, lots of books, help tie this story to something kids can put their hands on. What's also here is a love of books, and of libraries, and what they can teach us. Just opening an old book, is infused with this almost magical quality of discovery; of secrets that maybe no one else knows, or at least knows anymore. What a great inspiration for young readers especially! Bravo to Skelton for this alone.

That said, Matthew Skelton does leave a couple of gaps and inconsistencies in this, his first novel. Stepping outside reality, into the world of the supernatural can be tricky. I don't think you can just drop a magical bomb into the middle of a storyline and just assume that your readers will say, 'Oh, the author doesn't need to explain that. Its obviously magical, and therefore needs no explanation.' Wrong. Some kind of groundwork needs to be laid, that will allow your readers to cross that gap with you. We, as readers, need to be able to understand how and why its possible for something magical to happen in the world you've created.

So that's a gap. An inconsistency is when, for example, our young protagonist opens a book, and sees something so frightening that he drops the book, and actually runs away. A moment later, when he pauses to catch his breath, the book is in his hand. More magic? No, its just that the story doesn't make sense if he leaves the book behind, and I guess the scared scene looked better when he dropped it. Oops.

These things shouldn't keep you from reading this book, or from reading it to your kids. I think my kids are too old for that, alas. But I'll recommend it to them. It was spooky fun.

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