Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Review | Advent - James Treadwell

Scheduled for release next month, Advent is a YA urban fantasy of a very non-urban kind. For one, it's set in the countryside. For another, the magic of Advent is of the older tradition: mysterious, frequently deadly, and often fuelled by Faustian pacts... Which is fortunate, because Faust himself stars prominently (with a focus on a more obscure part of the legend - as well as a very different character interpretation). But said magician isn't the protagonist - so who is?

Gav sees things that aren't there. Well, one thing: his (until now) silent companion, Miss Grey. His parents dislike him (where have I heard that become?), and while they're away, Gav is sent to live with his aunt, Gwen. Who has disappeared. Oops. Things are waking up on the estate; Miss Grey has started talking; and something is being hidden - but what?

The first thing I'll say is that this is definitely a YA book, and so I'd recommend it far more to children and teenagers than adults. The second thing is that despite that, it's very well written. This novel belongs to a class of books which are essentially reactions - the protagonist, Gav, isn't moving the plot, and for most of the novel is responding to the events in play. Mainly by running away - somewhat of a tradition! Whether you like this depends on your personal taste, but the events are interesting enough to motivate it. Magic is returning to the world, his aunt has disappeared, and she's left a rather cryptic list that seems to hold the clues to what's going on: interesting enough for you?

In terms of character, I have to admit that Gav was a little unsympathetic for my taste - he was largely defined by what had happened to him, rather than being a more active character. His relationship with Marina, the small girl on the estate, also seemed one-sided. Despite that, younger readers will likely empathise more with the hero - and for those who feel the same way as me, the scenes from Faust's perspective will provide a far more interesting viewpoint. Far from the typical power and knowledge hungry scholar, Faust is practically a holy man - his power expanded by his possession of a particular ring... Which trinket drives the plot? Take a wild guess.

The side characters, likewise, provide more interest - as does the setting. Brought to life by an expert hand, this definitely is one of the novel's superior aspects. Advent is definitely a novel recommended for YA readers looking for a more 'mysterious', darker fantasy - though not as much for adult readers, who will likely have my problems. An original take on the Faust legend, a compelling setting, and genuinely ambiguous magic combine to make this a great read for young adults.

Find it here: UK US

Advent contest image - you found it!

5 comments:

  1. Hmmm...i'm not entirely sure about it but why not? The whole bad parents, leaving seems a little cliche but you never know when something will surprise you.
    Is it a stand alone novel?

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  2. Well, it stands alone as it (has an ending!), but there's space for a sequel - so I can imagine one will come along at some point. One of the revelations will come across as cliche/overfamiliar to more experienced readers as well.

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