A word to the wise when reading this review. TRY very hard not think about Harry Potter. Yes, it’s difficult. I found it very hard not to think of Harry Potter while reading this novel despite its’ very close similarities.
Max McDaniels lives a quiet life in the suburbs of Chicago, until the day he stumbles upon a mysterious Celtic tapestry. Many strange people are interested in Max and his tapestry. His discovery leads him to Rowan Academy, a secret school where great things await him. But dark things are waiting, too. When Max learns that priceless artworks and gifted children are disappearing, he finds himself in the crossfire of an ancient struggle between good and evil. To survive, he”ll have to rely on a network of agents and mystics, the genius of his roommate, and the frightening power awakening within him. (Taken from Chapters Indigo).
It’s hard not to compare this with Harry Potter. However the stories are somewhat similar you just can’t help it. There are definitely some aspects of the book you often wonder to yourself if you’re just reading another version of Harry Potter. However there are some aspects of the book where the similarities end and there is a difference between the two books after all.
The storyline is interesting and although it has magical elements and mythology into the plot, there is no hidden magical world. The magic just stays hidden and the faculty of the academy do what they can to cover up chaotic moments with perfect excuses. It does work well and the charade is well played. What I did enjoy is the care of animals which is part of the school curriculum, and when the pairing of the animals to the students was described, I thought that was an interesting read. There was a lot of emphasis and description on the Academy itself – which was nice to read because although it is set in the real world, the school was like a different place altogether.
The story also tends to take a little darker turn than usual especially towards the climax of the book. It does get more interesting and the action is well done, the emphasis on Celtic mythology is mentioned and adds a nice little spin to the book. The Prophecy bit is a little tedious and overdone, but is to be expected to keep the series going. The arc with Max’s mother is what keeps me curious about this series. There’s obviously more to that part and I hope it will tie in nicely as the series progresses.
Character-wise, Max was all right. There wasn’t anything to dislike about him and his nemesis, Alex is your typical jerk. Max also has his own little circle of friends but neither of them really stood out for me. Although I thought David was rather interesting. Mum and Bob are the ones that stand out the most (the kitchen staff). I thought they provided the comic relief and were a fun read. I also liked the relationship between Max and his father. I thought it was nice to see a parent character play such a main role into the main character’s life. It’s something I don’t usually see in these kinds of novels and it’s definitely a nice change to see.
So, with this book you’ll either like it. Or absolutely hate it. Those that are absolute Harry Potter purists should not read this book. The similarities are VERY close and there are many (quite a lot actually) and reading it would probably make your blood pressure pop. However readers that are looking for something that is similar to the Harry Potter style should pick this book up. It’s good enough for me to continue reading this series, however there should be more effort on the author’s part to make things different and think of new creative ways to move the plot ahead. It doesn’t look good if the book is a total rehash of ideas that have already been thought of.
I give it an 7 out of 10.