Sunday, May 15, 2011

Unusual Books Reviewed by Harriett

Percival, Guardian of the King
Kent North
His Work Christian Publishing, Oct 12 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780979918964


At the Guardian Angel Academy, student Percival is failing as he gets nothing right. Headmaster Aurelius is frustrated with his pupil who may be the first angelic dropout as Percival is dangerous to himself and others so he could never protect a human child. Although he knows he is not on a par with his peers, Percival continues to try his best refusing to quit even knowing he will never be given a child of his own.

Suddenly a miracle occurs when The Master chooses his least Percival to serve as the guardian angel protecting a special child. Everyone fears the worst but also wonders about the Master’s plan and his mysterious ways in choosing Percival though all know the Lord has a purpose for everyone. Meanwhile the worst student angel vows to be everything to his ward as he ventures to the first century Holy Land.

Although targeting middle school children, this retelling of the child Christ is a great parable that encourages readers while embracing the Lord to be all we can be and never give up trying as part of honoring God and his Son. Readers will feel transported in time and place as Kent North provides a strong Christian tale.
Harriet Klausner

Unnatural
Michael Griffo
Kensington, Feb 22 2011, $9.95
ISBN: 9780758253385


In the insular town of Weeping Water in Nebraska, teenager Michael Howard feels alone and alienated. His peers taunt him about being gay while his mother keeps her distance from him and his grandfather, whose house he lives in, is always on his case.

When his mother dies, his father Vaughn takes him back to his country England only to dump the lad at Archangel Academy in Eden. There he meets enigmatic Ronan, a gay teen. Each realizes they have met their soulmate, but wanting a strong foundation to their relationship, they take it slow. Michael has secrets he hides from his beloved, but Ronan conceals a humongous one that he is a hybrid vampire whose exiled clan is at war with the popular version of the vampire. Ronan worries about how his Michael will react when he tells him truth; he also knows the American is his Achilles’ Heel. When the time comes, Michael will have to choose between hurting Ronan (and himself) or embracing their love. However, first they will have to outwit their enemies who look at Ronan’s species as an abomination.

Ironically titled Unnatural is a creative imaginative vampire enthralling thriller that targets young adults though readers should be aware there are graphic sex scenes. The strong story line focuses on the impact of a teen who is a part of a shammed minority group. Filled with action, Michael Griffo also cautions parents to be there for their children regardless of their sexual preference even when it differs from yours so that their offspring will not be like Michael ashamed of himself until he finally makes friends at the Academy. Everyone needs to feel they belong somewhere and with someone. Harriet Klausner

ShadowFever
Karen Marie Moning
Delacorte, Jan 18 2011,
ISBN: 9780385341677


MacKayla “Mac” Lane continues her quest for the magical book of the dark Sinsar Dubh that has the power to eradicate worlds. She is no longer the frightened Irish-American exile although she still grieves for her late sister Alina; Mac enters the forbidden White Mansion of the Unseelie King who wrote the tome of evil she seeks that she believes has answers to what she truly is and may provide a light to Alina’s homicide.

She remains inside the abode with the Unseelie King much longer than she anticipated, but finally returns to Dublin with a new outlook as she now understands the essence of evil as “bad thinking it is good”; the remaining Americanized tenderness has been expunged from her soul. Mac will do what it takes to achieve her goals. If friends die, so be it; if she seeks strange bedfellow enemies as allies so what; yet Mac remains off kilter with each revelation she discovers about her sibling, herself and that dammed tome that is hunting down Mac and her allies.

This is an excellent finish (not sure about whether this is truly the end as major questions remain including new ones) to a strong urban fantasy (see Dreamfever and Faefever). The fascinating story line shows how much Mac has evolved from that na├»ve caring American coming to find her sister’s killer only to find monsters around ever corner; thus her travails and tribulations including grief has hardened her heart and turned her tundra colder with an absolute belief that the end justifies the mean. Exciting though there appears room for another book (re Barrons and another key player) to tie up the loose ends and an adjustment is needed to accept the evolved Mac, fans of the Fever fantasy saga will enjoy the heroines search. Harriet Klaussner

The Radleys
Matt Haig
Free Press, Dec 28 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 978-1439194010


Dr. Peter and Helen Radley, accompanied by their teenage children Clara and Rowan, move from swinging wild London to quiet sedate Bishopthorpe. Believing blood thirst is a simple addiction, the parents adhere strictly to The Abstainer's Handbook rules that strongly suggest living like a human while living amongst humans. However, they have also neglected to inform their fifteen years old daughter and seventeen years old son that they are purebred vampires.

The offspring suffer form nightmares that each conceals from their parents. However, everything changes when an intoxicated Stuart Harper attacks Clara a vegetarian. His assault causes the dormant thirst for blood (and meat) to arise in his female classmate as her fangs surface. Peter asks his brother Will an overt vampire to help them with their problems.

This is an entertaining dark vampire family drama with a powerful twist to the relationships. Character driven, the cast makes the tale fun to read as none of the extended Radley family come across as vampiric stereotyped; instead ironically the four Radley suburbanites are stereotypical: repressed and must behave in accordance with the middle class rules of order while Uncle Will prefers the bloody life of a swinger. Intelligent this is a witty satirical spin to the recent vampire lives amongst us craze. Harriet Klausner

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