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Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson - The Familiars:Animal Wizardry - Book Review
Book Review This is the first book that has been written by the screenwriting duo, Adam and Andrew. It is a magical book, written with the 'big screen' in mind. In fact, even as I write this review, an animated movie of the story is being made by Sam Raimi and Sony Animation. The fast pace and short, sharp bursts of action should, in theory, transfer well to screen.
I have already read some reviews that are comparing this book to Harry Potter, and I find this remark all too familiar. Whilst the book does share some similarities such as Wizards, magic and fantastical beasts, a lot of these ideas are now well used subjects/concepts. Especially as each book is often trying to become the next 'big' hit.
This book does have a very good feel factor to it. In fact it is a great book for adults to read with, or to their children, as it will keep everybody engaged to the end. This is especially true in the way the story is told. In this case, through The Familiars, who are magical animal companions that develop a bond with an apprentice wizard. Aldwyn the ally cat, Gilbert the tree frog, and Skylar the blue jay take the reader on an epic adventure to save their wizard friends using their special abilities, of course. But only after they have been kidnapped by the evil queen - perhaps this is not very original, I know. However, it's through a mish mash of some new and traditional ideas that everything is eventually pulled together.
The one aspect that actually lifts this book, is the fast interaction that takes place between the animals. It makes you want to look out for them, and does actually pull a little at your heart strings. The way Aldwyn battles the tough streets, whilst being chased by an animal catcher, has a remarkably similar dark undertone to that of the child-catcher from another well known book/film. Skylar with her mood swings, and Gilbert, who carries the shame of his family are both great and compelling characters within the book. However, the best part of the book for me was the journey to Daku, to meet the tree frogs (Gilbert's family). This was a great slice of memorable reading and felt entirely original, pulling me into the enchanted world that I so wanted to visit.
This book is fun, quick and easy to read. It is written in the style of a Disney film with magical, action-packed scenes. These have all been well written and of course, finish with a happy ending. The next book to be published in this trilogy is 'Secrets of the Crown' and should be published in September 2011. In the meantime, I am certainly looking forward to seeing the animated film of 'The Familiars' at some point in the very near future.
Book published by HarperCollins U.S and U.K - Early and late September 2010