Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Twins Sophie and Josh Newman have managed to get summer jobs in San Francisco just across the road from each other. Sophie is working at a coffee shop and Josh is working in a bookshop owned by Nick and Perry Flemming. Then one afternoon a mysterious group appears at the bookshop and turns John and Sophie's worlds upside down. Nick and Perry are no ordinary people. Nick is none other than the famous 14th century alchemist Nicholas Flamel who is reputed to have discovered the secret of eternal life. Perry is his wife Perenelle, a gifted 14th century sorceress. The mysterious group is determined to wrest the secrets of eternal life from the pair and help the dangerous Dark Elders re-take the world and destroy humankind. When the twins interfere in their plans they are forced to join Nicholas on the run and it soon becomes clear that perhaps their intervention was no accident. Perhaps they are the ones spoken of in prophecy who will save humankind. Find out in this first installment of the 'Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel' series.

Its been some time since I've read a good children's fantasy book that draws on so much history, myth and legend. It is a real treat as I have always loved reading myths and legends and Scott has managed to interweave them into this story so beautifully. There are Greek/Roman gods, Egyptian Gods, Celtic gods, Norse gods, references to Arthurian legend, the Great Fire of London, a famous Elizabethan astrologer and much more besides. It really is a good book if you want to introduce children to a whole host of trivia and expand their knowledge whilst at the same time reading an enjoyable book. It would hopefully lead to them reading greek myths and Arthurian legends :)

The book has a good mix of fantasy, reality (although I do question 15 year olds knowing how to drive and not being stopped by the police....) and adventure. It is very readable and has very good pace. I found it very enjoyable and couldn't put it down.

I would definitely recommend people who like children's fantasy books (like Inkheart or Eragon or Artemis Fowl) to give this a try and I would definitely recommend adults encouraging their kids to read it.

*4 stars*


Amber said...

When doing a book review, you want to keep your plot summary short. Since I can only do one sentence plot summaries, I recommend for a longer one to be no more than five sentences.

Again, do not use 'I' statements. Readers don't care that you've always loved reading myths and legends. They want to know how this book stacks up to other books, and they want to know the analytical parts of this novel.

Here, let me help you with an example by changing one of your opinions to something more credible:

The book has intelligent depth with a host of trivia that can expand one's (or your) knowledge, as well as being an enjoyable read.

That's all I can get, but you need to put more analytical points after the plot summary. Basically, what is the author trying to say with this book?

Steven said...

Self Confessed Walkover, are you wanting advice on how to write reviews or just reviewing books for fun? I found Amber's comment a bit strange. Maybe I'm missing something.

Self Confessed Walkover said...

What I wanted was advice to help me improve the reviews I write. Although I do do it for fun, I want to improve on how I write reviews so that they will appeal to people. I am one of those people who likes to work at things, improve them, better myself etc etc :) I guess deep down I'm hoping that one day I might write a review that will encourage people to post comments, start a dialogue and get some new reading ideas from that. I just love talking about books and with no local book groups, this seemed like one way of doing it.

Hope my ramblings make sense!

stevent said...

I see. That makes more sense now. Glad to have found your site. I'll keep checking back.

What genre do you tend to enjoy/read the most?

Self Confessed Walkover said...

I love historical crime fiction and fantasy books (with a soft spot for good children's fantasy books). I do try and read historical fiction books that aren't crime based from time to time (like The Rose of Sebastopol which I'll be reviewing tomorrow) and occasionally books with an social anthropology slant like the Bookseller of Kabul.

What sort of books do you like?

stevent said...

I mostly focus on medieval historical fiction and fantasy. I read those the most. And non-fiction medieval history. Right now, I'm trying to finish up 3 books at once. That never works out too well for me. Always slows me down.