About the Book
- Author: Shaun Hume
- Genres: Fantasy
- Released on: 31st October, 2012
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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.
This book has been compared to and has even been described by some readers as the cure for the HP hangover. Let’s put it to test!
Ewan, the protagonist of our story reminded me so much of Harry from the ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ that he could easily qualify as Harry for any layman, this is the level of similarity they share! Want examples? Well, let’s take a look at the way Ewan is described. Ewan looks a
and his hair was
‘a stock standard fair brown; short, messy and stuck up oddly in various places’.
Remember Harry? He was frail and his messy, unkempt hair were talked about in almost all the books. Harry wasn’t able to control his magical powers which made him an outcast with the Dursleys while Ewan could see ‘Creatures’ that none around him could see which made him the odd one out in his various foster homes. This similitude doesn’t end there, even Firedrake Lyceum; Ewan’s school, shares similarities with Hogwarts. It has a
‘grand spiral staircase’
and Ewan’s dorm is described in the following words
‘The whole space was littered with couches and rugs and armchairs and normal tables and stools.’
Griffindor common room?
It is either heavily based on Harry Potter or I just found a little too many resemblances. The story so far is hinting on being totally Harry Potter-y but since this is the first book in a series, I hope it doesn’t.
Now, as I always do in my reviews, let’s talk about the first chapter. Ewan isn’t actually introduced in the first chapter, instead we meet Betony, an important character in the book. Betony’s secret mission is the focal point of the book. The first chapter does grab your attention because it has a lot of drama going on and there are layers of confusion too but it fails to maintain it because the writing gets a bit too descriptive or shall I say ‘flowery’. However, once you get through the initial chapters, the writing style improves and it is able to get you hooked!
‘Pity in one’s own downfalls without the sight to rejoice in your strengths is truly the road to ruin’
I like how the book’s main trio, Ewan and his friends Mathilde and Enid are given enough background. In fact, Mathilde and Enid do get a chapter or two of their own. Enola, the Grand Master of the Lyceum is another very interesting and mysterious character which can be developed in various ways in the future books (also wasn’t Dumbledore mysterious?). A character that I would like to see more of is Ewan’s very practical, very cool, very laid back, very gentleman-ly friend Rusty! I liked this side character more than Ewan at times! His few appearances in the book didn’t fail to impress me.
Moving on to the World-building, which in my opinion isn’t convincing enough and is the weakest part of the story. For me Hogwarts exists, but Firedrake’s existence is something I am not completely sure of! Why you ask? Firedrake is located in the city of London! How is that even feasible? If there was anything in this book that should have been taken from HP, it is the school’s location! Sure enough, there must be some magical thing-y in place to make it invisible to the lubbers (the muggles), but what would happen when students come out from the gates? It is not mentioned that Firedrake was in an isolated place, in fact there is a public park nearby, how could the lubbers not see the Lenitnes(that’s what Ewan and his fellows are called)? It smells of a plot hole.
I really liked the idea of Sorting students, there aren’t any hats or magical creatures that sort the students into their respective ‘cliques’. In fact, students aren’t sorted in their first year and they learn the subjects of all the different cliques. It is a better selection process, though if the Masters are involved in selecting the students for the cliques, the validity of the process will be under question. That is a thing we will get to know in book two.
The pace with which the plot develops is fairly neat. There is a lot going on at any given point to keep you hooked and the pace doesn’t slow down much. The plot is interesting, it is a different story that has become very eerily similar to Harry Potter, nevertheless, it is a completely different story. Ewan and Harry though being almost one and same, are different. Ewan has a different story to share which doesn’t involve He Who Must Not Be Named.
Although, I did not feel the same attachment to the book or the characters the way I did while reading Harry Potter, I do want to see what happens in the future books as there is indeed a lot of potential in it. The first book leaves all the right questions unanswered with a major cliffhanger and that is what will make me pick up the second book.
Would I recommend it to you? Tbh, it depends on who you are. If you are a touchy-feely HP fanatic, then no this probably isnt the book for you but if you enjoy reading HP fanfics or are into fantasy, then definitely give it a try!