Brought to you by OBS reviewer Alina
Beware of possible spoilers
Nicholas Hallow is almost 16 years old, when his mom and dad die in a train crash. He believes that it was just an accident, but soon he’ll get caught in strange events, unfolding faster and faster and threatening to ruin the last remains of a normal life. His parents’ 71 year old friend Samuel Wilkins receives a letter that Nicholas’s dad must have posted just before he died, instructing him to take the boy to his guardian and godmother, Jessica. The night before they leave, Nicholas discovers a secret study room, behind the wall of his parents’ bedroom, full of old tomes of the ‘Sentinel Chronicles’ and starts to realize that maybe his parents were not exactly the ordinary people he thought they had been.
Leaving aside the treatment of the plot, which is slow and boring in places, the idea is appealing. I am sure that many 10 to 14 year old boys will find it fascinating. I do believe that this can be a better book than it is now, especially because I think the writer is a pretty good one. Reading this book felt like here was the skeleton of a new book furnished with characters and situations from the Harry Potter series. Not to mention that the whole book is very vague.
Try as I might, I couldn’t get interested in any of the main characters. Plus, I don’t find them credible. Let’s start with Nicholas. First of all, he behaves as if he were much younger. He felt his parents were boring, ordinary people, so obviously they would go and get themselves killed in a train crash. How ordinary! Well, so far, he is behaving like an ordinary teenager himself. Then he is taken care of by his neighbor Tabatha, who obviously has nothing better to do than take care of him. Later, when he is at Jessica’s house, he:
“almost missed Tabatha’s clatter and commotion. Only almost though, because she’d been a massive pain in the backside as well”.
Yeah, she probably washed and cleaned and cooked too much for him, poor boy. And the whole running around in the fields with the stranger Reynolds, chasing for the monster Garm, what was that all about?
I had a very hard time containing my laughter any time Jessica appeared, especially in the last chapters of the book. After a 5-minute talk she gets tired and needs to rest. All of a sudden she starts acting even weirder than before, wandering like a mad woman in the garden, mumbling to herself and totally unable to react when her house and Nicholas are threatened (professor Trelawney, anyone?). And then she is instructed by Esus to start training Nicholas. Who should train him? This failed Ophelia who clearly has lost her ability to fight and can’t keep her wits when necessary? She is supposed to be the strongest of the Sentinels, actually the Sentinels should be the protectors of people. So far, they are just, well, ordinary.
The whole world is collapsing around them, but they all insist that everything is fine, so they won’t scare Nicholas. Sam, the old man, avoids any conversation about himself with the boy, but when he does say something, it’s to tell him the story of his fedora hat, which I for one, found boring. He also uses, unnecessarily in my opinion, the word ‘harlot’ to describe Malika, the evil Familiar of the monster Diltraa.
The cat, inhabited by old Isabel Hallow is an entertaining addition, but the character that I found the most intriguing, Nicholas’s mom, unfortunately gets killed in the first pages of the book:
“His mother had hated fairy tales”.
“… she didn’t need stories to remind her about things that ate little children”.
I will be waiting to see how this story continues, because I have been left with a lot of question marks, a lot of characters failed me in many ways and I want to see if they had a good explanation for it or they were just there to fill some pages that needed filling. I think this author has a lot of potential and I’m curious to see where this series goes.
*OBS would like to thank the author for supplying us with a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*