This first part of a new trilogy begins most promisingly. James Treadwell’s Advent introduces troubled 15-year-old Gavin, on his way to stay with his Aunt Gwen in Cornwall, having been given up on by his parents and everyone else. I was very excited by this book from the moment it arrived.
The great start does however make detours into more boring country every once in a while, before leaping back to where it was. And thus it goes on. There were bits of chapters I wanted to prune. I felt I was being given information I didn’t seem to need. (I could be proven wrong, of course. Might be like the polyjuice potion.)
Gavin has had a secret friend all his life. And the woman he encounters en route to Aunt Gwen’s cottage has been hearing voices for as long. When Gwen fails to meet him off the train, weird things start to happen at an ever increasing pace. Things go bump in the night in Gwen’s cottage, followed by Gavin meeting some unusual neighbours. Not all of them as alive as you’d want.
There are some truly interesting characters in Advent. Most of them meet at some point, but remain surprisingly separate. I wanted much more from Hester, who is a tremendously promising character. And the boy Horace has so far been too marginalised.
You have your man-eating dogs and talking black birds (again) and mermaids and a strangely ancient man, as well as people rising from the dead. Evil seems to be returning to the world, after centuries of absence. The people around Gavin have something to do with this, but we don’t get a full explanation.
Advent has plenty of humour and excitement and I enjoyed the good parts enormously, while ignoring the historical flashbacks to Faust. There are a couple of lapses of point of view, and the 21st century shouldn’t mingle with the 16th.
SLIGHT SPOILER WARNING!
By the end I wanted to go on to read the second book, and that is when James went and switched characters with no warning, leaving me wondering about Gavin and co. The next lot seem interesting, too, but will the twain meet? Will enough threads be tied up?
In his Author’s Note James explains stuff, carefully ignoring all that I wanted to know. Oversight, or cunning?
(Do you want to win a copy of Advent? If so, use the Contact form at the top of the page – not the comments – to tell me about it. And we’ll see.)