I will qualify my review: I am both the publisher of this novel and father of the author. Of course I thought that this book was fantastic! Allow me to tell you why you will too.
Alex wrote this novel as part of the National Novel Writing Month contest when he was fifteen. He has always been an intelligent and thoughtful kid, and so it was no surprise to us that he would be able to write a book that was full of suspense, action, imagery, and heart. What was surprising was that, having never written a book before, he decided to write this one under a tight deadline: one month. He knuckled down and knocked it out of the park!
The story is written to a young adult and middle school audience; however, it is a fun read for all ages. There is action, some violence, and mild horror, but the essence of this book is that it is a coming of age story. The characters are well-defined. The plot has tricky twists that build the suspense in wide-sweeping arcs and provides a sense of mystery. The narrative, written from various character perspectives, gives great insight into the thoughts, hopes, and fears of these would-be heroes, while pulling the reader in and immersing us in the mythos of a world on the brink of destruction.
As I ran out of pages and the story drew to an end, I found myself wondering what adventures would befall these characters next. I felt like I knew them. Told with a whimsical flair, the narrative gives us a glimpse into the extraordinary lives of our teen protagonist and his friends as they strive to save the world; the text breathes life into this loyal band of friends turned heroes.
What is there not to like about a book with swords, dragons, magic, magical stones, hordes of undead soldiers, and a darkness spreading across the land by the hand of a legendary evil known only as the Shadow King?
Now how many reviews give you the inside scoop? The story behind the story? Lucky for you, I happen to know the author fairly well!
So, what drove Alex to enter the Nanowrimo contest and write this book? Well, I wrote an epic fantasy novel a little over a decade ago. I never published it. I wanted a copy of it, so I created a book press with parts from Home Depot and set out to learn rudimentary bookbinding. Little did I know when I printed the manuscript and bound it as a homemade hard cover that Alex would pick it up off the bookshelf, dust it off, and read it. He told me that seeing that I had written a novel inspired him to want to write too. Seeing him published with this first novel inspires me to finally publish that book which I had written so long ago. Maybe some day soon, he will be writing a book review for me.
Alex is a great kid and this book is a fun read. I certainly enjoyed being able to read it several times as we went through the editing, typesetting, and publishing process. Each time I read it, I found new things that impressed me about the plot, the prose, and the principled character unabashedly inherent in this first time author. He certainly has made me proud.
And so, with book in hand and in the words of his fabled Dragon Knights: Let the adventure begin!