Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real.
Seven years have passed and Thomas hasn’t forgotten. He hasn’t forgotten the blue of his dad’s eyes either or the tickle of beard on his cheek as they hugged goodbye. Last moments together are memorable, even if you don’t know that’s what you are having at the time.
Now, with his 13th birthday rapidly approaching, Thomas’s search for magic is about to take a radical and unexpected turn. At an out-of-the-way shop filled with dusty leather books, a strange little man with gold-flecked eyes offers him an ancient text called The Book of Sorrows. The price is high and the rules are strict, but there is no way Thomas can resist the chance to look inside.
With the mysterious book guiding the way, a strange new world is revealed – a world in which Thomas has a name and destiny far more extraordinary than he ever imagined. But time is short. Even as Thomas uncovers his secret family history, enemies emerge, threatening to end his rise to power and destroy everything he holds dear.
My review –
Let me just begin with accepting I am not a fan of fantasy or magical realism genre. Thus it took me a long time to finish reading this book and even more time procrastinating over it. I would have put it down midway if I wasn’t required to write a review for it. Thankfully I kept at it because it did get interesting after the midpoint.
In the first half when Thomas is reading one chapter of the Book of sorrows at a time, the story moves on at a slow pace. Strange people and stranger circumstances turn up every few pages which not only left Thomas bewildered but me too. I was asking the same question WHY? WHAT? every now and then as Thomas did. The only difference between Thomas and me was while he was scared for his life, I was bored for mine.
The story takes a 360 degree turn the moment he finishes reading the book and returns it to the bookseller. By this time, the magical powers of the book have been unlocked and Thomas’s life comes under severe threat. It is from here the story picks up its pace and becomes interesting with Thomas exercising his hitherto hidden magical powers, the identities of the strange people of the first half getting revealed, the reality of the present times coinciding with the story of the Book of Sorrows and a huge task to save the world from destruction which rests on the shoulders of the teenager, Thomas Wildus.
In the end, though the world gets saved, obviously, yet there are still questions about the whereabouts of his father and more questions to explore about his ancestry which I think should be revealed in the second installment ‘Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria’ releasing in the later part of 2019. I shall be looking forward to unearthing answers to my questions in part 2.
Things I liked about the book –
Thomas is a compassionate, intelligent, fun-loving, friendly teenager who loves and cares for his mother, the only family member he has. His mother is a single working parent who although is pressed for time finds ways to bond closely with Thomas. Thomas and his mother have a unique relationship where most of the time it seems like Thomas is the highly concerned parent to his mother.
What he misses here finds in his best friend, Enrique’s big family consisting of a single mother and several brothers, sisters and cousins.
The story touched upon bullying and saw Thomas standing up for the cause of a new boy being bullied in the school bus. The score was however settled between the bully and Thomas through magic in the end which is fine in the context of the fantasy-laden book.
Things which did not work for me –
There are a few characters reading about whom made me raise my eyebrows in somewhat distress. 3 characters specifically represent stereotypes. A Chinese who is a Kungfu master, an Indian (with a South Indian name) who is a computer geek capable of hacking secured computer systems and a girl in the name of Thomas’s crush interest who has not got much to do in most part of the story with only a line in the last chapter, after Thomas is back from his adventure, denoting they had been together for a week. In my opinion, the almost non-existent teenage romance angle could have been done away with.
My verdict –
If you are interested in fantasy and magical realism, then this book will not disappoint you at any cost.
This book is aimed at middle graders. I will wait for a couple of years before handing over this book to Dhruv to read for he is happy to dwell in the uncomplicated fun world of the likes of Captain Underpants at present.
Author – J.M. Bergen
Release Year – Will be released on February 2, 2019.
Publisher – Elandrain Press
Age group – 8 -12 years
Available to buy from Amazon – click on the images below:
I received a free copy of this book from the author’s publicist in exchange for an honest review.
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