Django Wexler is a new name in the fantasy realm. His first book, The Thousand Names, was written for older/adult readers and was published by Del Ray in the UK. The follow-up to this book should be published this year, at some point in July. However, this is Django's first foray into the children's market which will be published simultaneously in the UK and the US early April 2014. The cover above is the UK version, whilst the one below is the US book cover. It's great to see the difference between them - what are your thoughts about these?
My review of this book is taken from the advanced reading copy, which was kindly sent to me by the publisher Doubleday. This version does not have the black and white illustrations that have been drawn by David Wyatt and can be found in the UK copy. I'm not sure if the US edition will have the same illustrations in the final version. However, I have been lucky to see a couple of these already, courtesy of the illustrator, so I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on a beautiful finished copy once it has finally been published in April.
This is the type of book that I love to receive - a classic fantasy adventure that is full of magical family moments. The more that you read, the more you become gripped by the brilliant imagination. It's like all your favourite books wrapped into one - a world that houses talking mischievous cats, well dreamt beasts (with warts and all) as well as a fantastic array of characters. Some of these are mysterious whilst others are sweet and nice - just like Alice, the main character, who we follow through the main story.
The vast library is captivating. It is filled with magical secrets, dark shadows and many strange books. I loved the idea of the characters jumping into magical books. With a life of their own, they are reminiscent of the characters in Cornelia Funke's Inkheart books. I hope that I haven't shared a little spoiler here, SORRY. The characters, Mr Geryon and Mr Black, are typical good-old mysterious and nasty adults that will suck you into the story and show a dark-side that may leave you feeling slightly unsettled.
This is a book that everyone will love, in my opinion. It is a great balance of action and fantasy magic which will put a spell on you. Alice is left to battle the world after her father goes down in a shipwreck and she is sent to live with a distant relative who she knows nothing about. Will the quest to find a happy ending be achieved?
At a couple of points, this story didn't quite gel together and felt slightly disjointed in parts. Nevertheless, this is a great debut book as part of a fantastic new series that could hold epic status. Captivating, thoroughly enjoyable and a very entertaining read, I would definitely recommend this book as a read for everyone. The splendid illustrations add to the great storyline and create a fantasy gem.
Book published by Doubleday UK - 10 April 2014