Who is Charlie Keeper? by Marcus Alexander

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Who is Charlie Keeper? by Marcus Alexander

Buy Who is Charlie Keeper? by Marcus Alexander at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Teens
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Energetic and vivid fantasy novel of parallel worlds, magic and intrigue with an engaging central character and wonderful illustrations. It has all the tropes and is an enjoyable read, but is badly let down by poor editing.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 387 Date: July 2008
Publisher: Marcus Alexander Publishing
ISBN: 0955891205

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Twelve-year-old Charlie Keeper lives in a slightly peculiar house with slightly peculiar noises and slightly peculiar visitors. Her life isn't so great; her parents disappeared years before and she lives with her senile grandmother and under the auspices of the wicked family lawyer, Mr Crow. She really does need to get away. And get away she does. Fleeing one of Mr Crow's particular nastinesses, Charlie falls through a gap between worlds and finds herself in Bellania, home of myth and legend, and place of magic.

In Bellania, the Winged Ones have gone missing and its peace is threatened by the ascending Stoman Lord, Bane. It is - but of course it is - Charlie's destiny to defeat him.

I enjoyed Who is Charlie Keeper? It has all the fantasy tropes - a reluctant heroine, the presence of familiar mythological figures, good and evil opposed - plenty of excitement and action, and some excellent worldbuilding. The magic in Bellania is called the Will and it's a very thought-provoking combination of supernatural and talent, in the vein of Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series. It was my favourite element of the book, as it allows Alexander to draw parallels between his created universe and Charlie's coming-of-age. It also underpins the novel's sense of the importance of balance in life. All good fantasy novels need these kinds of metaphors.

The illustrations are tremendously impressive and they give the book a real sense of depth. Occasionally it feels a little bit derivative; people in Bellania play K'Quidditch, sorry, K'Changa, for example. But it's not often, and you find this in most fantasy novels. The characters are great - all properly larger-than-life, with really good goodies and utterly dreadful baddies.

The big problem is the editing. Who is Charlie Keeper? suffers from poor punctuation and too many instances of dodgy syntax. It's nothing that couldn't be ironed out with some thorough proof-reading, but it really does interrupt the flow of reading. I don't much like reading sentences twice to be sure of the meaning and emphasis, and children are, by and large, less patient and tolerant than reviewers. There are too many errors for them not to be distracting. This aside - although I think it is a serious problem - the book has a great core. It's big-hearted, open, pacy and exciting, so kudos to it for that.

Buy Who is Charlie Keeper? by Marcus Alexander at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Who is Charlie Keeper? by Marcus Alexander at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Who is Charlie Keeper? by Marcus Alexander at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Who is Charlie Keeper? by Marcus Alexander at Amazon.com.


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Veronica Hoggar said:

I’ve always been a big fan of reading and really enjoy the fantasy genre. This book had me gripped from page one and I couldn’t put it down. Brilliant story, well written and a very likeable heroine who is much more real than some other characters I’ve come across. Truly a great read that lets your imagination stretch to its most creative limits. If you were thinking about reading this, my advice, be quick before it becomes a movie. Can’t wait for the next one!

Jason said:

Hi Book Bag,

I've used your site for a while, its a wonderful book compass and does always seem to point in the right way but I believe that in this case you missed the mark. I adored this book, yes there were errors, yes there were grammatical mistakes but after reading the book it is very easy to forgive these failings because eveything in this book is glorious. The characters are surely magical, the baddies Stix, Stones, Mr Crow and Bane are the epitah of evil the storyline was fast driven and exciting and I could go on and on but I think I would start to stutter!! I can understand the reviewers tenuous disagreeability with the 'syntax' but surely it deserves a whole heap of stars, possibly 32 out of 5 not a dickering 3 out of 5. (Yes I know this isn't possible but I'm trying to scream out a point and jump up and down and wave at the same time!!!)

I do wholeheartedly agree with the reviewer on the art, this was rivetting to see.

Book Bag many thanks and I do hope you correct your 'compass' with this book!

Jill replied:

Hi Jason

Thanks for your comment!

It is most definitely a fun book to read, but I'm afraid I can't agree that my "compass" is in the least bit off. Poor editing of a book detracts enormously from a reader's enjoyment and understanding and leaves a bad taste of unprofessionalism in the mouth.

The editing of Charlie Keeper doesn't just have an error or two. It's in every sentence, running right the way through it. Had I not been reviewing the book and thus obliged to read it all, I'd have put it down after a page or two and never gone back. If I had bought it, I'd have been very unimpressed at its lack of finish.

Bookbag is obliged to be truthful and honest because its readers rely on that. We also like to be generous in our praise and stinting in our criticism in acknowledgement of the author's work and feelings. I think I've done that: I spent twice as much time on the positive as I did on the negative, and when the flaw is as major as this one, I think perhaps it's as far as I could possibly go and still retain the honesty on which the site depends.

I do hope Mr Alexander writes another book though, and I hope that he will consider the investment in a professional proofreader as money he would spend wisely. I wish his writing career well.

Lucy Beadle said:

I see there is a debate going on with this one lol! I've just got my copy so I'll tell you how it goes, to be honest I've heard good things about this and I have seen some of the dragon graffiti around too. I bet Jason is from HWLC, KCC or LCF as I know there have been a lot of books and posters given out at each uni (yes I'm from LCF!)

Anyway will get back soon when I've read it (my book pile is looking big at the moment!) :P

Book Bag still doing the good stuff and still rocking!

Lucy x