I thought I’d try something different today and bring you a couple of mini reviews. Both of these books are adventure stories with a fantasy twist so it seemed to make sense to talk about both of them.
The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life…
Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere’s sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night—and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces.
This the first of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s books for teenagers that I’ve read. The plot has plenty of excitement, though at times I found it to be a little far fetched and I had to work to keep up with it. On a few occasions I found myself having to go back and re-read a section, trying to get it to make more sense.
I quite liked the main group of characters, though as to be expected with teenage characters I did sometimes find some of their actions a little frustrating. I found the villain a little hard to understand, his actions didn’t always match up with what I expected.
The most frustrating part about this book was how much potential I could see in it. The good bits are really very very good, I just wish the whole book could have been consistently at this level. Unfortunately The Midnight Palace didn’t live up to my expectations, I think in the future I’ll stick to Zafon’s adult fiction.
Between Two Ends by David Ward.
When Yeats and his parents visit his grandmother’s creepy old house, Yeats reunites a pair of pirate bookends and uncovers the amazing truth: Years ago, Yeats’s father traveled into The Arabian Nights with a friend, and the friend, Shari, is still stuck in the tales. Assisted by the not-always-trustworthy pirates, Yeats must navigate the unfamiliar world of the story of Shaharazad–dodging guards and tigers and the dangerous things that lurk in the margins of the stories–in order to save Shari and bring peace to his family.
Whilst The Midnight Palace fell short of my expectations Between Two Ends completely lived up to them. It’s an exciting read that combines folk tales and pirates, a surprisingly good combination. I liked Yeats from the beginning of the book, and I found myself really rooting for him throughout the book.
I loved the idea of the characters going into the book to go on a big adventure, and I know that the young me would have been completely blown away by it. I had to read this in two sittings, I spent the time between them looking forward to getting back to it.
This is aimed at the middle grade audience, I’m sure that it’ll also do well with the YA age group too. I’ll certainly be looking out for more by David Ward.
The Midnight Palace is published in hardback by Orion Childrens in the UK priced £12.99. Between Two Ends is published in hardback by Abrams in the UK priced £10.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of these books via NetGalley.com all of the opinions expressed are my own.