Friday, October 14, 2016

Jack Bates and the Wizard's Spell - Leslie Grantham

Summary:  “Jack Bates and the Wizard’s Spell” is the first in a series of books chronicling the adventures of Jack and his friends in the wonderful world of the OTHER.

It’s a rollercoaster ride, full of drama and colour, strange creatures and strange landscapes. Full of magic! The book is unique in its genre, as it combines true history with myth and legend. It’s a story that’s different than any other you may have read. Could it be true? Who knows?

“Jack Bates and the Wizard’s Spell” will be enjoyed by kids of all ages, from eight to eighty – and beyond. It has everything – action, adventure, enchantment, romance, wizardry and total charm. The reader will travel with Jack on his journey from a shy, introverted boy, to a courageous young leader and his character will resonate with and appeal to kids and adults alike – boys and girls, men and women.

The narrative is “simple but sophisticated”, and that’s not a contradiction in terms. The story is simple enough for younger readers to understand, yet the style is sophisticated enough for older readers to appreciate. You won’t just like “Jack Bates and the Wizard’s Spell”, you’ll love it! You’ll be captivated from the very first page, wanting to know what’s going to happen next, feeling as if you’re a part of the story – inside the pages yourself! (Summary and image from goodreads.com.  I was provided a copy in exchange for an honest review.)

Review:  Meet Mint.  Upon first glance, Mint is a blackbird, but view him while holding a four-leaf clover, and you’ll see who he really is - a faerie, and quite a dandy at that.  He’s got a story to tell, all about the princes Richard locked in the Tower of London, Merlin and Morgan’s feud, and a boy named Jack.

I love a good reimagining of the Arthurian legend and am usually game for a new take.  However, I’m also particular about what I like and why. When retelling a story that’s been retold a thousand times over, the “fresh take” had better be unbelievably good.  I want to see a new side of the story, a new spin, or a point of view never before explored, and I want to see it well-written. Unfortunately, this retelling is none of those. 

I found myself so discombobulated as I read—between the jumping points of view and scene changes mid-paragraph, the storytelling style, and the assumption that if it makes sense to the author, clearly it makes sense to everyone else—it was impossible to follow the story.  I felt like the storyline kept wandering off, and the author was just going to follow whatever trail he was on when he lost it until he found it again, whether it was pertinent to the story or not. I could almost see the editor’s margin notes “This makes no sense, please explain” and then the author’s plunking in whatever two sentence explanation he thought would suffice.  In short, I felt like I was reading the love child of a demented dream journal and a five-year-old’s story time.

Couple the misguided, confusing, chaotic storytelling with the myriad grammatical and spelling errors, and I just can’t give this a good review.  A few spelling and grammar errors  I can overlook. But when there are so many I find  myself wondering if I’ve been given a first draft and reaching for my red pen, there are issues.

There are so many amazing retellings and continuations of the Arthur/Merlin legend, I can’t in good conscience recommend this one as one to read.  There are too many issues that need fixing first.

Rating:  One star. 


For the Sensitive Reader: Some bloodshed, satyrs kidnapping and threatening to eat children, your being used for you’re and vice versa.

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