on July 24, 2014 :
This book was really good. I had a bit of a problem with the frequency of cursing at the start, and the use of nicknames for the four horsemen was confusing at times, but otherwise the book was a great read. Perhaps a bit too vivid in the descriptions of gory scenes for some though, so you should probably avoid eating while reading it.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on Nov. 21, 2013 :
Receiving free review copies of books often takes me out of my reading comfort zone, and this book was a prime example. I'm hardly its usual target, being grown-up and female, and I've never read a line of Harry Potter. As the cover didn't particularly appeal to me, I'm embarrassed to say this book sat on my to-read pile for a while before I opened the first page. But once I'd made a start, I was gripped, very much more than I'd expected to be, and I was eager to find out how the likable hero Art's adventure would unfold.
This is a neatly plotted novel aimed at teens, particularly boys, but I think girls would enjoy it too, if they're not too squeamish. If they're interested in myth and magic, and what child isn't these days, thanks to J K Rowling?
Presented in bite-size, tiny chapters, often just two or three pages long, this is a super book to lure teens away from online games. There are plenty of ingredients to get them turning the pages and reading avidly in spite of themselves: cliffhanger endings; action-packed adventures; gruesome, grisly moments; all couched in a slangy playground style seasoned with the occasional token swearword for street cred. This could be just the right kind of book to bring out the latent bookworm in reluctant teenage readers.
I liked the blend of classic teenage new kid in town tale with the ancient legends of the court of King Arthur. The central character, Art, unaware that he's the son of Merlin transported to the 21st century, must deal with issues of peer pressure in the playground, and very much more, before travelling back in time to a besieged Camelot.
I must admit my knowledge of Arthurian legend is hazy: when someone mentions Merlin, I picture the cheery blue-robed gent from Disney's "Sword in the Stone" film, rather than anyone with potential to slay the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I therefore can't vouch for the accuracy of the Arthurian theme in this book, but it certainly spins a good yarn of the battle between good and evil, finishing neatly and happily in the modern world, resolving the problems with which it began. This full-circle ending is very satisfying.
The story was strong enough to withstand the odd editing hiccup along the way, such as a mother being referred to unaccountably as both the American style "mom" and English style "mum" on the same page, and I personally found the abundant use of .... in the middle of sentences ... a bit irritating, giving the .... impression of someone speaking with .... either a stutter or ...narcolepsy. But I don't think those details would deter the average teenager racing through the story. I didn't enjoy the graphic horror scenes of cats and people being eaten alive, but then you can't really expect the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to be exactly cudddly.
I can see this book working well as a series, with young readers anxious to snap up another as soon as they finish each book. I hope the authors will return with more action stories about the likable young Art and his sweet sidekick Megan. As it says on the cover, "Move over, Harry, there's a new wizard in town".
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Jan. 21, 2013 :
Not a teenager myself - but in the world of children's books.
Plotted at pace, in this extention of the Camelot legend, excitement happens on every one of the 330 pages. The length is far from daunting as the reader is left in breathless suspense at the end of every chapter. Wisely, the author has been teenage-friendly and made the chapters short.
The characterisation is vivid. Art, our reluctant hero, is the bullied school nerd who must save us all from evil against seemingly impossible odds. Refreshingly, the other major players are all fascinating women - Egrainne, the feisty, self employed mother; Megan - the beautiful and vulnerable teenage heart-throb and Cane - the ultimate Gothic dominatrix.
Throw into this lots of gore and you have a compulsive read. When's the film released ?
(reviewed 10 months after purchase)
on July 27, 2012 :
A mix of Harry Potter, with some of the zaniness of Terry Pratchett and a hint of Tolkein, is the only way I can think to describe it.
Great fun - I hoovered it up once I got past the start: I wasn't sure if it was going to be too young adult for my liking. But once I was in I was hooked, and am hoping for more from Art.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on June 9, 2012 :
Art Pengriffin is the first in what will become a series of novels. The story is a modern twist on the legends of Arthur and Merlin.
Art is (unbeknownst to him) the son of Merlin. He and his mother live in a sleepy Welsh village and Art is new to the local school. He is bullied and his unusual name is the butt of many jokes. Just as things start to look up for Art, his mum announces they’re moving again. But what is she running away from?
This book is brilliant – having recently returned to reviewing I was beginning to despair that I wasn’t going to find another gem like some of the brilliant books I read earlier on this year. However, I can say that this is a REAL gem. The writing is fluid and the story is exciting. It flows really well, and it keeps you gripped as it develops. The book is full of magic, intrigue and mystery and is one of those rare cross over YA novels – it will capture the imaginations of both young and old, and I can imagine it being read to children by excited parents. Although I’ve not read them… I imagine the Art Pengriffin series to almost be a Harry Potter in the making.
The book is gory and mysterious and is a real rollercoaster as the ‘four’ try to capture Art and his mum. Art is a really likeable character, and you can’t help but root for him as he faces the bullies and seeks to capture the heart of Megan.
So… if the book is so fantastic, why not a full blown five stars? Well… if I’m honest there was some language in it that I thought wasn’t quite suited to the YA market (And that may just be me being prudish!) and the final scene where Art seeks to meet his destiny went on a little too much for me, personally.
That said, I absolutely cannot wait for the next instalment in the Art Pengriffin stories – there’s much to work with and it looks set to be an exciting series.
(reviewed the day of purchase)