Thursday, 11 April 2013

A ReadItDaddy 'Daddy' review of "The Palace Library" by Steven Loveridge (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)

Living in Oxfordshire, we're never more than a stone's throw away from the mighty influences of fantasy authors who made the county their home, such as C.S Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien and of course Phillip Pullman.

Fantasy as a genre owes much to the former pair of inklings, and in Steven Loveridge's book "The Palace Library" it's easy to see why several reviewers have drawn comparisons between Lewis and Tolkien's masterworks, and Loveridge's novel.

Putting children firmly at the heart of the story, Loveridge has carved out a fantasy landscape that at first feels very familiar to anyone who has read any of The Chronicles of Narnia but fast establishes itself as feeling more written for today's children, standing on its own feet to show us a glimpse of a fantasy world altogether different to Lewis' imagined kingdom of Narnia.

Three children discover a dusty library in an old house, and this becomes the portal to an adventure that stretches their abilities and imaginations to the limit. Using books, the children embark on a hazardous journey to restore a lost sword to its rightful place - as clues and interwoven plots become unlocked through the power of words.

I loved the fact that the book celebrates libraries, books and the mystical journeys we can all embark on through their pages and children will love the fact that the three in the story (Grace, Eleanor and Harry) are just ordinary everyday kids, much like themselves - but given the chance to live through an extraordinary adventure, segueing perfectly with things they've previously only ever read about.

The mark of a good fantasy novel is its ability to effortlessly draw in the readers' mind a mental picture of how the fantasy world looks, purely through the power of the written word - and at times you can almost smell the heady mix of excitement and adventure in "The Palace Library". It's a very 'visual' book and one that lends itself well to helping the reader imagine the world within living and breathing and assaulting all your senses at once.

For early chapter readers looking to cut their teeth on their first fantasy books, perhaps looking for something shorter and less 'toothy' than the works of Tolkien and Lewis, this is a book that shines as brightly as its golden cover. We really hope there's a sequel on the way soon!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Steven Loveridge)