Monday, February 8, 2010

Curse of the Spider King (Berinfell Prophecies, Book 1) by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper (5/5 stars)

I have The Door Within Trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson at home to read; I have heard wonderful things about it.  When I saw this book on my Amazon Vine newsletter I was excited!  So, I got this book through the Amazon Vine program.  There are supposed to be at least three book in this series; the second book "Venom and Song" is due out August 2010.  This was a fabulous book!

Seven kids with very different lives find out they all have one thing in common; their human parents are not their real parents and they themselves are not human.  Tommy, Autumn, Johnny, Jimmy, Kat, Kiri, and Jett are all on the brink of turning thirteen years old.  They come from different parts of the world and different walks of life but they are all about to be brought together.  They are all elven lords from an alternate world and as they approach thirteen their gifts are starting to become active.  Suddenly they are being hunted by manlike creatures in grey trench coats and they are each given a book of Elven history that literally comes to life when they touch it.  Will the elven Sentinels find all of the elven lords before the Spider King does?  These kids, now elven lords, are the only people who can keep the Spider King from annihilating the elven race.

This was an excellent book.  For the first third of the book it alternates between scenes of the children living their current lives and scenes from the elven book of history.  There is a lot of setup to do in this book.  You have to bring seven different kids together.  All of the kids live in different parts of the world and have completely different lifestyles.  It took about 200 pages to introduce us to all of the kids; but surprisingly the introduction of the characters was so well done it was a pleasure to read.  The writing styles between the current scenes and the history scenes varies significantly and I wonder if the two authors wrote those parts separately.

Batson and Hopper introduce the characters in a way that is intriguing and engaging; I never felt like the story was bogged down by all the characters.  All the different Sentinels and their elven lords can get a little bit confusing (Tommy, Jimmy, and Johnny are easy to mix up because of name similarities, I personally would have picked more varied names) but there is a nice index in the front where you can look up each character if you do get confused.

The characters are amazingly well-developed and fleshed-out; especially considering how many of them there are.  The enemies are truly evil and the heroes are heroic.  The plot clips along at a fast pace, with excellent tension as you wonder if the Elven Lords will ever meet up and travel to their home world of Allyra.  The world-building is amazing and the breadth of the story impressive.  I enjoyed every part of this book.  The writing style is a pleasure to read with a good balance between description and action; the dialogue flows very well and sounds natural.

All the above being said I think this is going to be an immense series.  There are so many characters and so many things happening; that the story will be a big one.  So, far I have heard at least three books for this series...but I wouldn't be surprised if there are more.  This was a wonderful example of great middle grade/young adult epic fantasy and I think adults will enjoy it too!

I really loved this book and cannot wait to read the next one.  The strong points of this book are the wonderful characterization, excellent world-building, and intricate yet engaging plot.  The only weak point is that there are a lot of characters to keep track of; but the authors did a good job of lending a hand in that area by providing an index in the front.  After reading this book I am even more excited to read The Door Within Trilogy.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
- 1st in a Series Reading Challenge

Curse of the Spider King: The Berinfell Prophecies Series - Book One 

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