“Ewan Pendle was weird. Really weird. At least, that’s what everyone told him. Then again, being able to see monsters that no one else could wasn’t exactly normal …
Thinking he has been moved off to live with his eleventh foster family, Ewan is instead told he is a Lenitnes, one of an ancient race of peoples who can alone see the real ‘Creatures’ which inhabit the earth. He is taken in by Enola, the mysterious sword carrying Grand Master of Firedrake Lyceum, a labyrinth of halls and rooms in the middle of London where other children, just like Ewan, go to learn the ways of the Creatures.”
*Disclaimer: I was contacted by the author who offered me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. So, thank you Shaun Hume for sending me a copy!
I’ve always been hesitant about books that tend to be marketed as being the new “Game of Thrones”, or the new “Hunger Games”, or the new “Harry Potter”. Because the majority of the times, saying things like that hype books so much that when we actually get to read them, the books don’t even compare to them. This was the opposite of that, and I’m going to tell you why.
In the synopsis for this book on Goodreads it says that this is the perfect book for those suffering from Harry Potter withdrawals, and I think in a certain way, that is true, yet not quite so. Shaun Hume seems to have found inspiration in what J. K Rowling created, and have taken as foundation for his story some of the most characteristic aspects of what made Harry Potter be what it was: the trio of friends that find themselves in trouble wherever they go, the boarding school for kids with magical abilities or powers, teachers that seem to have grudges on our main character for whatever reason, and a mystery for the characters to solve where nothing is what it seems.
In a lot of ways, this reminded me of that first book of Harry Potter. The main character, Ewan Pendle is a foster kid living with a foster family, who the only thing they seem to care about is getting the payment that the government gives them for fostering kids. Ewan’s life has always been hard, especially because ever since a young age he seems to have been aware of creatures wandering about in the world, unnoticed by the rest of the people. He has learned that telling people he can see an actual dragon for example, only creates problems for himself making people think he is crazy, which in turn, makes him actually wonder whether he is crazy or not. But all of that changes when his foster family delivers the news that he is to be gone from their home and onto London. So far, we can see a lot of similarities between Ewan and Harry. Both have had their lives marked my tragedy, living without their parents, not actually knowing what happened to them, and having to grow up with people who couldn’t care less about them. And suddenly, they find themselves thrown into this new world full of magic and creatures. Yet, the similarities don’t stop there. There are a lot of aspects about Ewan’s personality that resembled Harry’s so much, that I couldn’t help but feel a bit of nostalgia while reading this book. Ewan is awkward, and finds it extremely hard to get caught up with what he is being taught at the Lyceum, the boarding school where people who can see these Creatures go to be trained in order to become Vilmhieds, those who protect people from these Creatures by hunting them.
For me, one of the things I loved the most about the story were the three main characters, especially Enid. We have Ewan, whom I’ve already talked about, Enid, a pirate who is the target of constant discrimination by people who look down on her and her way of life, and Mathilde, another foster kid victim of domestic abuse. The dynamic of these 3 and the way their friendship evolves and develops by the end of the book was one of the things I liked the most about it. Like I’ve said, Ewan reminded me a lot of the young Harry Potter, awkward and unable to grasp everything that was happening around him as he was thrown into this new world where deadly creatures and magic exist.
If there was something that I wasn’t quite a fan of was the pacing of the story. I think that for a book of almost 500 pages, a lot more action should have happened. I found myself losing interest when all we got to see was Ewan going to his classes and not much else seemed to happen. I wanted to learn more about the White Wraiths, which I think was one of the most intriguing aspects of this world Hume created, I wanted to learn more about how the magic system actually works by having scenes where it’s actually used. Yet, by the last 20% of the book, the story does pick up, and I have to admit that I was not expecting that revelation as to who was the one behind the assassination attempt on the Queen. The ending does leave you wanting to know more about things that were touched upon but were not fully developed or given explanations for, like what happened to Ewan’s parents, or the things being said about Enola at the end, or how is it that the ribbons on Betony body actually work. Do they offer some kind of special power? Or is it just a way to distinguish herself as part of the Stealth Clique? I guess the majority of these questions could be answered in a sequel of Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith.
I also have to admit that Hume has an incredible talent as a writer. His descriptive and detailed writing style pulls you into the story and makes you feel a part of this vivid world he has created. Personally, it’s always hard for me to find an author’s voice within the Young Adult genre which doesn’t fall on the basic or simplistic storytelling, so it was extremely refreshing to see a storytelling which can be this thorough.
All in all, it was a fun and interesting fantasy book, with many elements of it reminding me of Harry Potter’s story, yet I think that this story could stand on its own without the need to compare it to J. K Rowling’s.
About the author
Shaun is an Australian born author of three novels. He wrote his first story, entitled “The Stagecoach Robbery”, at the age of six, and has been making stories ever since.
After working in education with children of all ages for many years, Shaun turned his passion into his profession, and is now a freelance writer and photographer.
Ewan Pendle has been described as an ‘antidote for Post-Potter Depression’, a tale of a life changed in an instant when a young boy discovers who he truly is, and what he has the opportunity to become a part of.