Sunday, 29 June 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review: Dawn Finch - Brotherhood of Shades

This is the debut book from Dawn Finch. Ever since she was a young girl, Dawn wanted to be a writer and librarian; her home was filled with books. She had a love for Edgar Allan Poe that soon turned from a small dream into a large vision once Dawn grew older. Her love of books and reading never went away; one day her dream turned into reality and the Brother of Shades was born.

I've wanted to read this book for quite some time now but, unfortunately, I've never seen this book in any bookshop to buy. I actually find this really hard to believe as it is a cracking read. I really do agree with the quote on the front of the book by Jonathan Stroud stating that this is "a wonderful new fantasy". I love the cover as it really does scream 'read me, pick me up, delve into my pages and read me word for word' - this is exactly what I did and I was not disappointed.

From the very first page, I was gripped by the opening of the story. I loved the feel of it and the excitement that was generated at the prospect of what was to come. I seemed to read this part of the story more slowly, as I was, perhaps, rather absorbed by the world and characters a little too much. However, the more that I read, the more I really loved this book. The author's love of reading oozed from every pore and helped to create a mental picture that held-fast like a good oil painting. Every detail was stored through the clever weaving of historical events, places and people which gave it a sense of reality as you zipped from the 1500's to the present time.

This is a great ghost story but with magical elements such as talking books, scary monsters and some very well-timed twist and turns. The plot is hinged around protecting the living from the world of the dead and mythical legends. The secret order was set up along time ago by a group of monks who named themselves Brotherhood of Shades. One of the first to be enlisted was enigmatic Toby D'Scover who is humorous, dapper and totally dead. He's a saviour of the world of the living - a protector of ancient books. This is an important role as one false move and this could lead to the dead rising again to bring havoc and chaos to the world. This is a dark fantasy, with some lip smacking moments, that will have you gripped and hooked to the point that you cannot put this book down.

The characters were convincing - not too many to get to grips with which really helped to keep the pace of the book flowing. The progressive complexity of the story and the realistic dialogue between the characters supported their role in travelling back in time/spectral realm. A great deal of research has gone into the plot, but the setting really comes to life as a result of this. The ending was an explosive triumph; the climatic battle really got you thinking. I think that both teenage boys and girls will love reading this book - it is a great reading experience full of action adventure, discovery and secrets.

When a book really is this good, it's always sad to get to the end. I do have a feeling that we will be seeing Adam, Toby, Edie and the Brotherhood of Shades again real ghostly soon. This is an author to watch and a series to get very excited about. Bring it on.....

Will you join the Brotherhood?

Published by Authonomy (26 Sep 2013)

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