Even heroes do bad things, but there's something really unfortunate about being selected to join the forces of evil and become one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse!
When Jimmy Threepwood is collected to face his dark destiny and destroy the world with his supernatural powers, he is faced with a choice ... What lengths will he go to for the sake of revenge?
Many centuries ago the Elders designed the world we live in, but they knew that through time and the advances in medicine and technology, the world would slowly start to die and man would ultimately destroy the planet. The Elders created a prophecy that every two millennia, four children would receive a mystical mark. The children would grow and (one day) be powerful enough to release the mighty beast, Tyranacus. Together they would purge the world of man, allowing it to heal before the life cycle would start again.
Margaret Threepwood was a gentle and loving wife and was due to give birth when tragedy struck and Margaret fell severely ill. The Gatekeeper of life and death appeared in the hospital ward and provided a one-time deal so Margaret would live as long as her son Jimmy Threepwood was brought up unloved, uncared-for and handed to the Gatekeeper and his minions on his eleventh birthday, where his destiny would be unveiled to him.
As Jimmy approached his eleventh birthday he noticed strange and unusual things happening. Firstly, a mysterious crow started to follow him around school; this ultimately led to a Bunson burner accident and an unusual scar forming on Jimmy's arm in the shape of a number nine. This was followed by Jimmy protecting his friend against the school bully, but one touch changed both Jimmy's and the bully's lives forever...
This is an interesting middle grade fantasy. I enjoyed it.
Jimmy Threepwood is an interesting character. I really liked him. He has been brought up in a very unusual household. He is not physically abused but is emotionally neglected. His mother is emotionally cold and distant towards him. His father is more caring but still holds himself emotionally at bay. There is a reason for this. However, Jimmy grows up with a good soul and is kind and caring even though he has very few friends. When he reaches his eleventh birthday, his life changes once more and he finds himself training with three other students in dark magic to fulfil a prophecy made millennia ago.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author with no expectation of a positive review in 2013. Unfortunately, due to my rather large reading list, I haven't been able to get to it until recently. I sincerely apologise to the author for the delay.
When I began reading this story, it struck me as being similar to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter but with the characters meant to be bad rather than good. There are some major differences though. Instead of working with light magic, these students deal with dark magic, evil intentions and emotions, with the intention of freeing a demon to destroy man, whose activities are destroying the Earth with progress and technology. Jimmy is a good and kind character with a heart of gold, which leaves him in a bit of an emotional quandary about what is morally right and wrong. It is only when he is tricked (though he doesn't realise it) that his soul is tarnished by revenge. The other three students are evil or cruel due to their own upbringing. What I couldn't understand is this: if they had been brought up to be selfish and cruel/evil, how could they form a bond of friendship/teamwork? This seemed to be a bit of an oxymoron. You have to care about and trust your teammates to work together. If you are brought up to be selfish and uncaring, trust would be a problem. Having said that, this book is aimed at middle grade children and it may make more sense to them than it does to me.
We are introduced to some interesting characters: The Gatekeeper, who is similar to the Grim Reaper in appearance, Xanadu is the Gatekeeper's minion, Lyreco is a Dark Reefer and Jimmy's teacher, then there is Harry Hopkins, Percy Timmins and Talula Airheart, the three other children chosen to fulfil the prophecy. However, I felt that the characters were not as well developed as they could have been.
This story is an interesting mix of coming of age tale and fantasy and takes the reader on a journey from beginning to end. There are some fantastically described action sequences that had me sitting on the edge of my seat.
Unfortunately, I did find that the story was troubled with proofreading errors which caught my eye and this distracted me from the story's flow. I am hoping that along with the cover change that these errors were corrected as I've noticed that it has just been re-published as of July this year (2017) on Amazon. However, as I have the version from 2013, I can only comment on what I've read.
I reached the end with mixed feelings. It has a chilling conclusion which sets it up perfectly for the second book. However, I am in two minds whether or not to continue with the series as I didn't connect to any of the characters apart from the Gatekeeper (whom I felt sorry for, but only because of his innocence from the event that caused Jimmy's need for revenge). This saddens me. However, other readers may have a different reaction and enjoy it enough to continue with the series and, if you are one of them, good!
Rich Pitman has written an intriguing and somewhat unique debut novel. I loved the fast paced writing style, though thought that there was too much "telling" and not enough "showing" for my taste. The proofreading errors slowed the flow down, but didn't ultimately ruin my enjoyment of the story. I wish him all the best for the future and will follow his career with interest.
As this book is aimed at middle grade aged children, I highly recommend this book to readers aged 11 upwards. I also recommend this book to adults who love reading YA/middle grade science fiction/fantasy/coming of age genres. - Lynn Worton