Publisher: Jabberwocky (Sourcebooks)
Reading Level: Middle-Grade
Enjoyment Level: High
I didn't plan to read this book, but when I saw that the author would be in town for a book signing, I decided to ask for an interview. I couldn't very well do an interview without reading the book, so...
The editor in me found several things in Bran Hambric that weren't so great. The overuse of the word 'suddenly' got on my nerves as did 'in an instant,' 'could feel,' and a few other choice phrases that bug me no matter whose writing I'm reading. Those little irksome things are less about the writing and the story and more about the editing.
I very much enjoyed the story. Bran Hambric is a boy with a past that is secret from even himself. Of course, like most secrets, they don't stay hidden for long and Bran's life is soon going directions he didn't think it would. He's fighting against bad guys and what he learns about his mother.
The characters are well-written and the plot flows around them in a way that is natural. Bran is a mage living in a city where they don't allow mages, so that helps make the setting rich. Readers will also find that they recognize much of the technology in Bran's world since the author mixed realism and fantasy (and it's done well!).
Despite the editorial issues, the language and imagery are vivid and witty. Several details are delightfully silly, which make this book perfect for younger readers. They'll laugh at the wacky family Bran lives but they'll also be able to handle the bad guy and the climax at the end.
The book is the first of a planned series which follows Bran Hambric and his friends, but Farfield Curse does really well as a stand-alone book. The plot is contained with a few loose ends that make you curious without leaving a reader dissatisied with the ending.
It was a pleasure to meet this author and I look forward to reading more of Bran Hambric. For the interview, please visit us at the podcast and, until next time, go read something good!