by Steven Knight
Release date : May 2010
It's funny. If you're born a certain way, you don't really understand how it is to be any other way.So it has been for Toby Walsgrove—paralyzed since birth, unable to move or talk, with no known family, he has spent his entire life at a Carmelite convent in London. That is, until the day that his cat, Shipley, starts talking to him. Shipley has been watching over Toby his whole life and tells him they must go to Langjoskull, a city of exiles buried deep below the surface of Iceland. Because Toby is no ordinary boy—he's a descendant of the great king Will Wolfkin, and his kingdom needs him. Toby has never wielded a sword that can stop time. He has never shifted into his kin creature. He has never even walked on his own two legs before. Ready or not, though, he has a destiny, a responsibility, even a family—and not all of them are happy to meet him...MY THOUGHTS : The beginning was kind of slow and a bit unrealistic for my taste : Toby can suddenly use his body and his voice after a lifetime of immobility and mutism, and I thought he ajusted to the change very quickly... Also, the boat trip to Iceland lacked desciptions and clarity. But from the moment when Toby enters Langjoskull, the plot grows and you find yourself sucked into a story that is both fantastic, committed, colorful and quite imaginative. The following scenes go from thrilling to, well, a bit less thrilling, perhaps because of a slight balance problem, but they managed to maintain my attention.
The characters are endearing (even if Emma 'bumps her fists' a little too often!). The themes (mainly the absurdity of war and the power of the mind) are subtly and cleverly handled. I found the dialogues sometimes too 'dramatic', but it's an intermittent thing. The atmosphere and the fantasy elements are not very original, but I really enjoyed it anyway. One scene in particular works extremely well (and oddly it's one of the most realistic one) in which Emma and Toby find themselves in a field of landmines, and where the suspense is amazing.
The ending is unexpected, I was really surprised. I won't give away any spoilers, but I can say that it gives a higher and thought provoking dimension to a story that could have been that of any fantasy book.
I haven't see this book around the blogosphere, I really recommend it. It's a touching and fast-paced story that deserves to be read. :)