Friday, August 10, 2012

Advent by James Treadwell

A drowning, a magician's curse, and a centuries-old secret. "1537. A man hurries through city streets in a gathering snowstorm, clutching a box in one hand. He is Johann Faust, the greatest magician of his age. The box he carries contains a mirror safeguarding a portion of his soul and a small ring containing all the magic in the world. Together, they comprise something unimaginably dangerous.

London, the present day. Fifteen-year-old Gavin Stokes is boarding a train to the countryside to live with his aunt. His school and his parents can't cope with him and the things he sees, things they tell him don't really exist. At Pendurra, Gavin finds people who are like him, who see things too. They all make the same strange claim: magic exists, it's leaking back into our world, and it's bringing something terrible with it.

First in an astonishingly imaginative fantasy trilogy, "Advent "describes how magic was lost to humanity, and how a fifteen-year-old boy discovers that its return is his inheritance. It begins in a world recognizably our own, and ends an extraordinarily long way from where it started--somewhere much bigger, stranger, and richer.

What a wonderful book this was. It was one of those that I was prolonging so I wouldn’t have to finish it; you know the kind: the ones you allow yourself just a few pages, or else you’ll gobble it up.

It has such a Gothic ambiance, such a lovely scenery, that it really takes over. The setting is definitely another character, coming to life as the reader turns the pages. The other characters, Gavin, Marina, Ms. Grey, they are all cleverly written with as lush an internal landscape as the land in which they live.

It surprised me that the story, actually, takes place in just a few days. Yes, there are flashbacks, but the action is crammed into three or four days, giving a fantastic sense of urgency to the plot. And there are some truly frightening moments spattered throughout the book, but mainly towards the end. One moment, when a dryad comes to life, gave me chills.

Now, this is not necessarily a light read, in more ways than one. It is pretty thick prose. It reminded me quite a bit of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but without the footnotes. It can sometimes feel a tiny bit slow, especially at the beginning, but it does get better. Lots better.

I highly recommend this fantastic book. I’ll be looking forward to the next one for sure.

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