The Hudbrax Hoard (Sabrax Clyke Series) by James Fitzsimmons

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The Hudbrax Hoard (Sabrax Clyke Series) by James Fitzsimmons

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Buy The Hudbrax Hoard (Sabrax Clyke Series) by James Fitzsimmons at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A perfectly self-contained, but self-indulgent, children's fantasy, seldom reaching the charm and engagement of the first in the series.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 216 Date: November 2009
Publisher: Clyke Books
ISBN: 978-0955644214

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Meet Sabrax Clyke. Not allowed to sit around in the hole in the dry-stone wall he and his family call home, and admire the pretty girl who's just moved in next door, he's persuaded by an urgent message from distant relatives to go to their aid regarding some unmentionable, awful predicament. His journey there and the task itself will involve metal dragons, odd standing stones, earth-shattering movements, and unearthly nasties.

I had many reasons to laud this author's debut, Journey to Mailcann - primarily for the clarity of the writing. Here too the world is very vivid, and whether describing a natural world known to us human readers, or getting into the life of a very tiny Clyke, he is very adept at giving us a telling detail, a pleasant nuance or a compelling point of drama.

However there are several flaws this time around. While the young reader (something between eight and twelve, perhaps) will have no trouble with the writing (bar problems with the complex character names, in the case of the less confident readers), they are not served as well with the plot. Elements are picked up on that make the book seem like Alan Garner rewriting The Borrowers, that only provide their moment of ill-fitting fantasy, then are dropped.

There is also a quite vivid bit of what our film board would call graphic fantasy violence to close act two, which I would prefer to see toned down. Charming, like the best of these pages, it ain't. And soon after that - too soon - we see the book limp towards an open ending, setting up a third volume in a very awkward and undeserving way.

Fitzsimmons can most certainly write for his target audience - just as we know what the metal dragon is we can see our world from the eyes of one much lower down. That was, before now, a saga enough in itself, before this came along with its supernatural, mystical and randomly-featuring magic. Here so many of the words are spot on, and it's a shame the bigger, editorial picture, has let this woolly, free-range aspect enter this series.

I'll take a lot of the above back if it fits into a charming and exciting pattern with book three (otherwise, why on earth mention, say, the possible ghosts on the neighbouring farm?!), and all is shown in its true relevance - and soon - but before then I'll have to put this down as a book seeking closure in vain, and ask you to read part one on its own - or something else, along the likes of Sylvie and the Songman by Tim Binding.

I must thank the author for my review copy.

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Buy The Hudbrax Hoard (Sabrax Clyke Series) by James Fitzsimmons at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Hudbrax Hoard (Sabrax Clyke Series) by James Fitzsimmons at Amazon.com.

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