*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way influenced my review.
First off, I just want to thank Shaun Hume for providing me with a free copy of this book and apologize that it took such a long time to read! For anyone out there in Harry Potter withdrawal, this book is perfect for you. It draws you in to another world of magic and a mismatched trio diving into problems bigger than themselves. And of course, the narrator, Ewan Pendle, is just as delightfully awkward, clueless, protective, and foolhardy as Harry.
“Ewan Pendle was affectionately know to his four older brothers as ‘the weird one’.”
Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith is the first installment of a fantasy series. Ewan, an eleven year old boy, has jumped around from foster home to foster home his whole life. The people around him think he’s weird and troubled, because he claims he sees monsters, such as dragons. One day, on his way to a new foster home, he arrives at Firedrake Academy, and learns that there are others like him, other people who can see Creatures. They are called Lenitnes, and similar to wizards in Harry Potter, they have their own little world. Ewan, understandably, is clueless to his surroundings and what is expected of him, not to mention overwhelmed. But on the very first day an outgoing and bubbly girl Mathilde befriends him and shows him the ropes. Not long after that, Ewan and Mathilde befriend Enid, a pirate and therefore an outcast at the school. The unlikely trio soon starts to believe that there is an assassination plotted against the Queen (the real Queen, not the English one. More on that later), and decide it is up to them to try to save her. The book follows their journey through the school year as they attempt to figure out what the assassination plot is and try to save the Queen.
“Somehow, she, he and Enid would have to save the Queen on their own.”
One reason I really enjoyed this book is, like mentioned above, I am going through serious HP withdrawal (who isn’t?) and this book brought back the good feelings from Harry Potter. It was similar enough for me to feel familiar with it and comforted, but different enough that I wasn’t rolling my eyes at the same plot being told with new names. It retains the idea of magic, follows a trio through one school year, is centered around a young boy thrust into this world, and has a group of characters noble and naive enough to believe that they can try and save the world even though it’s their first year at school. But it is also different enough to be its own story. The world of the Lenitnes is a world of warriors (from what I’ve gathered). They don’t learn magic spells and charms so much as they learn about Creatures, how to defeat them, and physical fighting skills. Their school also is broken down into five disciplines, each with a different Master. While this sounds similar to the House system, each discipline actually focuses on different subjects throughout their years at school, and it’s based more on skill and ability and less on character. Hume does a magnificent job of building a completely different world, taking place simultaneously with ours (we are called lubbers, in case you were wondering). He even has a different Queen in charge, the true Queen of England. Forget about Queen Elizabeth, apparently she’s just a figurehead!
“This, Ewan thought, must be what it feels like to have friends.”
Another thing I loved were the relationships formed. One of my favorite aspects of the HP series was the tight bonds between the characters and the noble, trusting friendships that existed. These same close friendships existed here. Even though the friendship seemed unlikely, the three protect each other, stand up for each other, and trust each other. Some of the most heartwarming scenes were when the three would just be helping one another out, in small but significant ways. I can tell that their friendships are just going to grow closer as the series goes on, which makes me very very happy.
“‘Carrie,’ whispered Ewan.
‘Carrie,’ breathed Mathilde.
‘Carrie!’ shouted Enid.”
I think the above quote perfectly demonstrates the different personalities the three friends had. Ewan is slightly naive, big hearted, clueless, and a bit meek. Mathilde is bubbly, friendly, outgoing, and kind. And Enid is brash, unimpressed, and brave. Together, the three of them just work and flow. Mathilde and Ewan honestly have such a cute friendship between the two of them, and Enid balances it out and adds humor to their group. Also, I sense a little romance budding between Ewan and Enid, but Ewan seems to be half in love with every girl he meets. Still, I can definitely tell that Enid has a thing for Ewan, but I don’t think Ewan has figured it out yet. Personally, I have a soft spot for Ewan. The way he’s treated in the beginning and some of his open and vulnerable moments make me want to wrap him up and protect him. Even though he’s trying to save the Queen, he’s still a confused boy with a good and big heart.
And the last thing that I enjoyed about the book was the ending. It wrapped up the immediate story nicely, but I know more is coming because it left some things only partly developed. For example, I just know the White Wraith is going to be talked about more, something spooky and funky is happening in Ewan’s dreams, and I suspect the two are related. But Hume does a good job of setting that up to be talked about more in the next books (which he’s apparently already started working on!). And I just really really want to know what clique (discipline) Ewan, Mathilde, and Enid get put into!
Have you heard of this book? Are you going through HP withdrawal right now and need a pick-me-up?