Sentinel by Joshua Winning
|Sentinel by Joshua Winning|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: When fifteen-year-old Nicholas Hallows' parents are killed, he discovers they were members of a secret society fighting dark creatures – and he is soon right at the centre of an epic struggle between good and evil.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 266||Date: May 2014|
|Publisher: Peridot Press|
|External links: Author's website|
In many ways this book is not as typical of fantasy and mild horror as the summary might suggest. Unlike a lot of stories where we join the main character in the aftermath of a major event, this one begins before Nicholas is orphaned. The ever-increasing tension as his parents leave for a train journey, coming so soon after a menacing and mysterious prologue, makes it pretty clear to us that they won't be returning, and that Nicholas will soon be in deadly danger himself.
Unusually in a book written for teens we see events as they unfurl from the perspective of several of the characters. Alongside the main plot, where they deal with the sinister magical forces which are erupting into contemporary Britain, we watch people also handling the challenges and problems of everyday life like sick parents and bereavement. The book even provides the point of view of one of the villains.
Nicholas is thrown very much on the kindness of strangers after the death of his parents, though fortunately he is able to turn, for part of the book at least, to Sam Wilkins. This character is particularly intriguing: he's an elderly but still feisty gentleman who has devoted much of his life to fighting evil and to encouraging and protecting the Sentinels, and his habit of addressing his thoughts about his work to his dead and much-missed wife is very endearing. Another colourful main character is Isabel: she has to overcome quite a few problems to survive in the contemporary world, and yet she manages to be caustic, droll and wise. Not a bad mentor for a boy with as many enemies as Nicholas!
The book is overwritten in parts (such a lot of adverbs!) and a fair amount of time is invested in the early chapters in creating a portrait of one character who then disappears. Still, the two sections which preface the introduction of Nicholas are intense and climactic, and will carry the reader through the less dramatic events which follow. There is quite a lot of violence, and watching men and women as they are turned from good to evil means this is not a book for the faint-hearted. Although the main character is only fifteen, which suggests the book's readership would be between eleven and fourteen, it may be enjoyed more by those at the upper end of that group and teens. There are clear questions left at the end of the book which hint at what will happen in the next two volumes of the series, but there was enough of a resolution to the immediate plot for readers to close the book feeling satisfied.
Readers of dark and scary tales of ordinary young people caught up in a timeless battle between good and evil will certainly enjoy The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper – the first volumes were written decades ago but it is rightly considered a classic. For even more goriness, older readers could try CRYPT: The Gallows Curse by Andrew Hammond and CRYPT: Traitor's Revenge by the same author.
You can read more book reviews or buy Sentinel by Joshua Winning at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Sentinel by Joshua Winning at Amazon.com.
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