Monday, November 16, 2009

Candleman, Book One: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance by Glenn Dakin - 320 pgs

Book CoverTheo Saint lives a very uncomfortable life. Locked away from society and put through painful daily medical treatments, Theo has been told that he has an illness that makes it much too dangerous for him to go out into the world. Along with being physically sheltered, his guardian, Mr. Saint, also makes sure that Theo is not unduly stimulated mentally by the things around him, much to Theo's chagrin. But everything begins to change when one night, a duo of bumbling thieves break into the mansion that Theo calls home. As the thieves grab Theo and force him to show them where to find the loot, Theo comes upon a secret room strewn with pictures of a mysterious figure named Lord Wickland. Theo's discovery of Lord Wickland is just the beginning though, because, to Theo's surprise, the illness that he has so long feared may not really be an illness at all. Soon other new faces creep into Theo's life and miraculously unfold a new destiny for him. But it's not all good news for Theo, because he also begins to discover some surprising facts about those who he once trusted so blindly, and it will be up to Theo to right the many wrongs that have been committed in the name of goodness and order. Fast paced and inventive, Candleman is wickedly fun romp for readers of all ages.

I haven't read many books that are targeted to the 9 to 12 year old age bracket but I thought that this was a very satisfying read overall. I really liked that the characters were quirky, yet not too quirky to be believable, and I thought Theo was a protagonist that kids would really be able to relate to and find compassion for. The story itself moved along briskly, which I appreciated, and it was a spectacularly unusual tale and one which I think many will enjoy.

As Theo began to discover more and more about the people who were raising him and what and who he actually was, I found that he began to grow into a sympathetic character and begin to embody many of the characteristics of a real hero. I also appreciated the unusual ironies in the story and felt that at times it had similar hallmarks to, and reminded me of a cross between, The Phantom Tollbooth and A Series of Unfortunate Events books.

There were a handful of unique characters in the book, one of which I enjoyed most was The Dodo, a terribly disfigured and haunting criminal who finds himself in a very interesting conundrum by the end of the story. I found him to be a character that was easy to relate to while still not losing any of the sinister aspects of his personality. I also think that Dr. Saint and his lackeys will appeal to readers, who won't be able to help themselves from getting caught up in their nefarious deeds.

I think one of the things about this book that will grip younger readers is the excellent tension of the storyline and the fast-paced style of the narrative. I believe readers of this book will not only be drawn in by Theo and his very strange circumstances but also by the unpredictability of the storyline and the writing style.

Another thing that I really liked about the book is the fact that it is not dumbed down for its target audience. There are a lot of complicated themes and ideas in the book as well as some really challenging vocabulary, which is one of the reasons that I think that this book will translate well for a more mature audience. This book is the first in a series, and although the story does come to completion by the last page, it does leave itself open for its forthcoming sequels.

This was a light and engaging read that I think many outside of its target audience will enjoy. It was very elegant in its imparting of messages and it was full of quick wit and whimsical situations. I am really looking forward to seeing where these books are headed and finding out just what Theo makes of his discoveries. I think this book would make a great gift for anyone who loves to get wrapped up in a greatly exciting story.

This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.


Suko said...

I enjoyed reading your review. You're an excellent writer.

bermudaonion said...

We're outside of the target audience, but I think my whole family would enjoy this one!

Marie Cloutier said...

Sounds like something I'd enjoy too! :-) It's nice when a book can reach beyond its targeted audience.

Hazra said...

I love your reviews, and this sounds interesting, with a dash of Secret Garden to it.

Aarti said...

I just won this book in a giveaway! How EXCELLENT that it has the zibilee seal of approval as well. I'll try to read it shortly :-)

Anonymous said...

Sounds promising - I like it when they don't dumb down YA novels. The whole point of having a YA section was to try to bridge the gap between children and adults, not keep kids churning over hte same territory for a few extra years. Thanks for the great review.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I called my 11 year old over to read your review, and he asked "can we get it??!" Well, 25 days until Christmas ...

Thanks for the review and recommendation!

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