The Rainbow Orchid: Adventures of Julius Chancer 2 by Garen Ewing

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The Rainbow Orchid: Adventures of Julius Chancer 2 by Garen Ewing

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A fun and evocatively old-fashioned graphic adventure for the under twelves.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 48 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Egmont Books
ISBN: 978-1405250474

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Oh to be popular - and the rainbow orchid certainly is. If, in fact, it exists at all. A collecting challenge for rare plants might hinge on its recovery, imperial British explorers would like to know the truth about it - and its presence on some mysterious ancient carved tablets hints at some mystical part it may once have played in a superweapon. Hence, where this book starts, everyone - from a film starlet, to a dashing explorer's assistant, to a plucky aviator, to an evil henchwoman of an overweight industrialist - is after it.

It's such a motley collection, and only the first book in this series can tell you how they're all on the plant's trail. This volume spreads the intrigue from a prison in southern England, to smoky study rooms in London Establishments, to the rural Raj, as the net closes - or does it?

With a lot of characters and plot strands this is still an admirable thriller. The balance of cartoon comedy (one character and his love of exotic animals, for example) and serious Saturday morning serial stuff is evident, and the settings and 1920s moods, dialogue and attitudes are spot on.

It is however a thriller for the under-twelves, and as a result beyond the ultimate mystery some of the plot is far too obvious. I highlight the age of the audience to contrast with the ages of the protagonists - almost all the characters are adults, and even our hero Julius Chancer seems almost twenty. There is no child to get the young reader caught in the chase - and there is, however much you might look, no Tintin.

Well, he had to be mentioned. This is a perfect evocation of the ligne claire style he was always seen in - sharp black inked outlines to everything, basic colours, one for every field thus outlined. The faces are as expressive as those by Herge, if not more so, and the stances and the poses of the characters are just as in Tintin - you can't fail but look for hidden in-jokes.

Some more modern, cinematic frames of pause, as we flash from continent to continent, seem the only really contemporary concessions. The design and plot are both very redolent of ancient potboiling kids' entertainments.

I still think those self-same kids would have preferred an 'in' caused by a hero of their own age, and this is a very hard to book to judge being the middle part of a trilogy when so much hinges on the first title. But this remains a twisty set of cliffhanging adventures, and I think a successful example - when all three parts are available I would not be surprised at all to see this series charm many.

As a standalone title, this cannot completely be recommended, and would only garner three stars. I assume the series as a whole to be well worth the four I've given it above.

I must thank the kind Egmont people for my review copy.

For more graphic adventures with a young audience in mind, we recommend Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer.

Buy The Rainbow Orchid: Adventures of Julius Chancer 2 by Garen Ewing at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Rainbow Orchid: Adventures of Julius Chancer 2 by Garen Ewing at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Rainbow Orchid: Adventures of Julius Chancer 2 by Garen Ewing at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Rainbow Orchid: Adventures of Julius Chancer 2 by Garen Ewing at Amazon.com.


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