“So, it’s – what – like magic?” No, according to Pen’s uncle, the Rite is not magic at all. But, if it’s not magic, then how could Pen push the school bully into a pond while he was really studying alone in the library? When Pen’s family realise he has the Rite, he is sent to live with his Uncle Napier, who can help him control his ability. But Napier has other duties. He is the Rendelf, in charge of the Rite in the UK, and he has gathered many enemies over the years… …enemies who would be delighted to use Pen against him.
“Stop that!” Napier shouted, just as his nephew had done seconds before. But Pen was no less stubborn than his uncle, and the sword continued to move across the room. “Stop that now!”
The hint of panic in Napier’s voice gave Pen a sense of satisfaction. He had achieved what Marley had not. He could see Napier’s fingers working frantically as he wound the Rite around them. The sword was now above his head, the pointed tip of the blade only six feet above him. With an angry cry, Pen sent it crashing down, commanding it to reach its target no matter whether or not Napier stepped out of the way.
There was a loud crash of metal as the sword fell on the floor, and the noise seemed to bring Pen back to his senses. The anger was gone, but it had been replaced with a sickening feeling of remorse and guilt which was already feasting on his insides.
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
His uncle’s face was almost as white as his right index finger, around which he had pulled the Rite tightly to prevent the sword from hitting him. Napier looked at him in silence for a few moments before shaking his head.
“It can’t be helped,” he said, his voice as calm as ever. “I should have known you had it in you. And every Rendelf must face the darker side of his apprentice sooner or later. I should be grateful it happened before you have full control of the Rite. I’ll tidy this place up. You two go and enjoy what’s left of the sunshine.”
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My Review: 4.5 Stars
This is the first book that I really enjoyed in a while. It is a story of magic in a contemporary atmosphere. The plot takes off immediately, which I enjoy as a reader; however, the author slowly shares backstories as the story develops. This keeps the reader intrigued. The characters are likeable and diverse.
This novel is also a coming-of-age tale. The main character, Pen, and even his new best friend, Marley, are thrown into a life full of great power but also enormous responsibility. They start as two immature youth who mess around and cause chaos but later grow into wise, strong leaders. Their friendship plays a significant role in the book. I’m sure that we will continue to enjoy this friendship in the next installment. Napier is the classic intimidating distant relative that constantly clashes with Pen’s rebellious nature. But we learn that Napier wasn’t so different from Pen when he was his age, and under the stern façade, we get glimpses of a caring uncle who sees himself in his new apprentice. Other characters like the Shipperbottoms and Isolde and her brother Percy bring in their own narratives while also enhancing our understanding of Napier himself.
The plot flowed nicely. There is always something new that Pen is learning and thus, the reader stays engaged. Sometimes I wanted to grab Pen and shake him for his cockiness that continues leading him into trouble, but then again, he has a teenager mentality for risk taking. His love and hate relationship with his uncle conveys that very much. We see a whole new Pen at the end and are left with hints that the story will continue in a new book.
I think many young adult readers can relate to this novel. The conflicts represent common teenage challenges, but it also gives young readers a form of escapism since they can imagine a world where they could inherit powers and assume great responsibility at a young age.
I received a free review copy and am leaving this honest review voluntarily. I would recommend this book to youth and adult readers who enjoy a good fantasy tale.
Judith was born in Orkney, grew up in Lincolnshire and now lives in the far north of Scotland. Her work draws inspiration from folklore, experience and the natural world.
The Backwater, Judith’s debut book, was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards in 2019, and her most recent novel, Honour’s Rest, was a finalist in the Eyelands Book Award.
When she isn’t writing, Judith is a teacher at a primary school in Caithness. She sometimes finds that writing gets usurped by crafting, music, and being a generally doting spaniel owner.
Follow the Full Tour:
October 18: Bibliomanaic Aza
October 25: The Avid Reader
October 25: The Faerie Review
November 1: Jerry's Circumlocution
November 1: Review Thick And Thin
November 8: Candlelight Reading
November 8: The Reading Addict
November 8: Carey PW LGBTQIA Author