March 30th, 2022
Could my rating be the result of years of anticipation? Of seeing people loving and raving about it, but having to wait, and wait, and wait, because of a very long, very slow moving library wait list? Possibly. But I also think this book just wasn’t for me.
| Published: 2020 Tor |
| Genre: Fantasy |
| Age: Middle Grade |
| Length: 394 Pages |
| My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ |
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
Since I first started hearing about this book I thought it could become a new favourite. It sounded like everything I could love; found family, misunderstood characters, kids with powers. It was described as a cosy comfort story, and it sounded like everything I have ever needed in my life. But it fell short to the point where I struggled to finish it. When that happens, it’s got to be two stars.
Why didn’t this work for me? Here’s the thing, I’m not a fan of ‘inspirational quotes’ and this has them in abundance. You can tell the author wrote down a bunch of sweet sounding sayings and just placed them throughout the novel; ‘make time for the things you love’, ‘your voice is a weapon’, ‘don’t left prejudice cloud your judgement’. It was a bit much for me.
Not to mention the uncomfortably toxic work environment that felt like Big Brothers Ministry Of Truth, but is so romanticised? This book overall has a very ‘rose tinted glasses’ feel to it, but things aren’t very rosey and you never really learn why.
I liked some of the characters. Lucy especially made me laugh. But the dialogue between them just didn’t flow. I think that would probably work well for it’s younger readers but felt stiff and stilted to me. Also, this isn’t the books fault, but I’ve also never been a fan of humans with tails, or characters who are trolls, etc.
By the time I got to the last 100 pages, I was just ready for it to be over. So yes, I skimmed. Maybe it was the mood I was on (although honestly I don’t think so) but it just didn’t keep my interest. I found it incredibly boring, I felt like nothing was really happening, and even Lucy’s dark but cute demeanor couldn’t keep me reading.
It also left me with a lot of unanswered questions, probably because it is aimed at a younger audience who probably wouldn’t wonder about the same things as I did. The answers also would have probably made this happy go lucky book too dark and serious, and children wouldn’t want to read that, right?
This was a disappointing read for me, but I won’t dwell on it. Sometimes popular books aren’t for me. Onto the next!
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