Charlie Reade is a regular seventeen-year-old American until a tragic accident claims his mother’s life and his father sinks into alcohol trying to cope. It is when the darkness of reality gets its own little miracle a fantasy becomes reality. An act of chance and kindness leaves Charlie with the keys to a magical world hidden under our own reality. He then has to fight to protect our world and right the wrongs within the other.
The story is incredible, no less than you would have expected from a seasoned storyteller like Stephen King 🤴 The size of the book may seem daunting. I honestly was worried if I fell asleep reading, it would fall on my face and give me a black eye. However, the story carries more than just one narrative; the character of Charlie Reade’s struggle to care for himself and his dad after his mom’s death in a brutal hit-and-run is enough for one novel on its own. When he meets a dog named Radar and her ageing master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill with a locked shed in the backyard life gets all the stranger and Charlie’s promise to God gets a new test. The second narrative is a genuinely fascinating fairytale mash-up and remix. Charlie fulfils a prophecy of a long-awaited hero prince.
The presentation is good, I love the illustration, but more importantly, care has been taken in chapter planning and image placement so as not to break the reader’s flow in reading the story. The main performing characters are excellent. Some of the narratives are lazy as it presumes you can make the reference to the “Average American life”. However, it’s still strong stuff. The gruesome is not lost or watered down by fairytale atmospheric delivery. An excellent read. Easily a good read for any fantasy enthusiast. I would even recommend this one to Young Adult readers (not typical for Steven King novels), especially those looking to take the next step up from reads such as the Percy Jackson collection.
A big county-wide competition is now open. This is a creative writing opportunity for young people across the county. whether you are into poetry or storytelling, music or drama. Please do take the opportunity to get some extra training and even compete with others for prestigious prizes. https://www.wcaf.org.uk
Queen of Coin and Whispers has two narrators: Lia, the young, recently crowned Queen of Edar and Xania. Lia is determined to right the wrongs of her dissolute Uncle’s reign, and Xania, a fiercely intelligent young woman who works in the treasury, is determined to investigate her father’s suspicious death, she becomes Lia’s spymaster. As the two of them try to get to the bottom of the corruption in Edar, and a romance sparks between them.
The chapters switch back and forth between the two protagonists, in the first person. It’s a testament to how strong both voices are that I didn’t ever lose track of whose chapter it was. This is a YA novel which aims to be contemporary but also high fantasy which leans into a naturally historical feel. When they fall for each other, their feelings collide with their expected paths in life: duty and vengeance. The political intrigue is well integrated into the romance narrative and neither feels unreal. Counterplotsand hidden enemies make life difficult for our two leading ladies. There is a good range of gay and bi characters as well as herosexual.
Unlike many YA fantasy for teens this has fabulous portrayals of parents and the way the remain parts of their children’s stories Even if the children are out uncovering murder and ruling a country. Additionally, this has a wonderful, healthy representation of a stepparent too, which is a nice refreshing theme.
Joshua is 18 years old and has in the past struggled with reading on a regular basis. Joshua says the key to getting him into reading was comics and poetry books.
“Both use fewer words to tell the story and must have good rhythm and pace to be worth reading.” – Joshua
Joshua’s review: Neil Gaiman is an awesome writer for children and has some of the best young adult stories going. Even his version of Hansel and Gretel is dark and teen appealing. Not all children want the cute and fluffy happy-go-luck hero. If they enjoy a Tim Burton movie than Gaiman is the writer for them.
The story was interesting and engaging and I never felt bored at any point reading it. Preludes and Nocturnes is the beginning of a much bigger story, so you do have to deal with some story world building and explaining. But, this is a must in all fantasy as you need to know the limits of your hero. That is why this start is one of the best, right from the outset our hero has the biggest fall of his eternity. Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams has been captured and his items of the endless are stolen. We follow his escape and his efforts to return to his realm as king. Along the way he has to learn how people have changed without dreams. The world [worlds] are not as he left them and nightmares are free to cause issues. If only that was his only problem, humans and other mythology folk are also causing problems. Morpheus even has a battle of whit with Lucifer [devil] in person. All really good action and fun. The blending of history with mythology and a modern storytelling form is excellent. Sam Kieth has done a wonderful series of graphic novel illustration from the sketches Gaiman and Leigh Baulch had. The images alone keep your eye on the page.
The Sandman series on Netflix’s is a close enough adaptation that there’s no reason fans can’t jump straight from the Netflix episodes into the graphic novels.