Now, if you remember my review of Benjamin McTish and the door through Grandfather Tree, I mentioned that the narrative style was a problem for me. I'm really glad to say that this is much less of a problem now. For me, the main problem was that when talking about the world in the book, the author tended to show rather than tell (but this, I found, is because she sees the book like a movie, and she tries to make it as detailed as a movie would be). However, since the reader is supposedly more familiar with the world in the book now, there is less explaining and the story moves along at a good pace. I would say that the second half of this book was very well-written, with a lot of action.
Back to the book and its plot. Benjamin McTish and the Wizards of Coranim is a continuation of the first book, as the three children continue on their quest to save the world. At the same time, their parents and grandparents are drawn into the world after them, and a whole new cast of characters appear. There are a lot more battles, a lot more action and way less explaining.
Of course, with such a large cast of characters, it's a bit harder to keep track of all of them. The book does this mainly by giving them distinctive characteristics, in particular, very unique ways of speaking. It's a good trick, especially for minor characters, since it makes them memorable without needing to spend pages after pages of text to give them a backstory.
The only thing that makes me hesitate would be the message of the book. In the book, it's vital that the children open themselves up to the world. The overall feel I get is something that resembles Zen Buddishm. This was not helped by the fact that words like "Spirit" and "Hope" were all capitalised (the latent lit student in me immediately jumps on anything out of the ordinary and tries to analyse it). However, June explains that
The reason the words are capitalized is because in the ancient language and the words of the magical beings, these are words of power and importance. If you notice when they speak the word "Forest" it's capitalized as well, because to them the forest is it's own living entity…this is how they honor him. So when the shaman is speaking of truth, he is speaking of Truth, the ultimate expression of Love…see?
The book is not written with the theme of everyone is a piece of God, or Buddhist philosophy…although I can see where you may think this.And this would be the perfect place for a disclosure. I mentioned in the start that I almost gave up halfway through the book. You see, the first half of the book, while better, is quite similar to its predecessor. And the worries about the philosophy behind the book didn't help. So I was ready to call it quits. However, during this time, I was actually in an email conversation with June, the author.
June was very patient with me, and gave me very thorough answers to all my questions - including the reason behind the narrative style. She also assured me that the second half is much more exciting than the first, which is the main reason why I decided to carry on reading.
While this book isn't perfect yet, it's much better than it's predecessor. It seems to have found its voice, and it's developing well. In fact, the heavy handedness that I spoke of in my previous review has been heavily reduced (it's present mainly whenever someone, like Claire - Annabel and Mathilda, has to have something explained, or during a lesson where someone is explaining in very clear detail just why things happen). I think it's because this book has a stronger emphasis on action, while the last book spent a lot of its time pre-occupied with explaining what was going on and where the kids were.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author. I also had an extended email conversation with her, where she answered my questions and encouraged me to read the book. My review, however, is my own opinion, and was not written in consultation with anyone. It is as honest and unbiased as I can be.