My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was expecting loads from this book. It is one of those books recommended as a relief to those going through severe Harry Potter withdrawal. I expected magic and being left in wonder and amazement (the effect magic usually has on a reader). But it thoroughly failed to meet expectations. The magical gump, caves, mermaids, a ragtag group of individuals for the most important quest, ‘stealing’ a baby; all these were examples of elements that didn’t work.
The world building was too cautious – it felt like the writer was trying hard to make the world believable (for example, the mist making techniques to hide the island which had separated from the mainlands) which was unnecessary I thought. Another strong example, is the fact that neither Ben or the King and Queen could do magic; they were ‘humans’. It would certainly have been more fun to see them all, or atleast, the boy as powerful wielders of magic. The book is fantasy and supposed to be a separate world, trying to make it fit into the real world spoiled the effect.
The plot was absolutely predictable, the big twists were forsee-able from the very beginning and the little surprises (for example, Odge’s gift) did not stun. There are some books where even though the ending has been guessed by the readers from miles afar, it is still satisfying to see it unfold. This book was not one of them.
It banked on the different creatures, charming world-building and a formulaic good-and-evil story to redeem itself. With the exception of the mistmakers, which I did find adorable, I thought it lacked charm and the power of imagination to draw you in.
I don’t see this book as a forerunner for Harry Potter. It’s a totally different concept and bar the fact that both books have the presence of ‘magic’ and the entry-points to the magical place is the King’s Cross – I don’t see a lot in common. In this book, the boy disappears for nine years after which he is brought back. That’s the only similarity in the story arc and it’s a weak one. Perhaps, the simplicity of the story arc and laid-back writing can be excused since it’s a children’s book but I am a huge admirer of Children’s books and love reading a lot of them. Didn’t enjoy this one. It’s a shame since I generally like Eva Ibbotson’s books and was looking forward to being whisked away to a magical land in this book.
To see a list of the books I’ve read in 2017, you can hop on to this page.