Advent: A Novel
Author: James Treadwell
Hardcover: 448 pages
Published date: July 2012
FTC: Requested from Atria
Atria Publishing company has a really cool Galley program they use and as a blogger I love seeing what they have available for request. I picked three books and Advent was one of them. I figured that a book with such a cool cover and the quote "Magic is rising" would be an awesome choice -- and it has a Deborah Harkness blurb on the cover too. I was mostly right -- I loved most of the book but it kind of tapered off at the end. This is going to be a trilogy so that's probably why I got that "eh?" feeling at the end. I hate when trilogies do that. Anyway -- for most of the book though I was HOOKED. Let's see if I can blab about this one in any kind of coherent way...
The back of the book:
1537. A man hurries through city streets in a gathering snowstorm, clutching a box in one hand. He is Johann Faust, the greatest magician of his age. The box he carries contains a mirror safeguarding a portion of his soul and a small ring containing all of the magic in the world. Together, they comprise something unimaginably dangerous.
London, the present day. Fifteen-year-old Gavin Stokes is boarding a train to the countryside to live with his aunt. His school and his parents can't cope with him and the things he sees, things they tell him don't really exist. At Pendurra, Gavin finds people who are like him, who see things too. They all make the strange claim: magic exists, it's leaking back into our world, and it's bringing something terrible with it.
First in an astonishingly imaginative fantasy trilogy, Advent describes how magic was lost to humanity, and how a fifteen-year-old boy discovers that its return is his inheritance. It begins in a world recognizably our own, and ends an extraordinarily long way from where it started -- somewhere much bigger, stranger, and richer.
Advent is a book mainly about Gavin Stokes and it's through his perspective we see events take place. The story alternately flashes back in time to Johann Faust, the greatest magician in the world, who becomes a bit power crazed. But it's Gavin's story that I loved and had me hooked.
Gavin kind of wants to be normal. He's been seeing things he shouldn't for as long as he can remember. His mom and especially his dad have no clue how to cope with what they see as childish antics so they ship him off to his kooky aunt who works at the odd country manor Pendurra. (I know, another awesome story set in British manor -- The Little Stranger & The Orchid House.) Gavin is an awesome character. I think if this book was ONLY about Gavin's journey growing up and discovering magic it would be one of my favorite books. And to be clear, it's not a Harry Potter type of discovering magic -- no magic wands or spells....this is different, more real and definitely more terrifying.
While I wasn't as hooked by Johann Faust's story, I can see how it was needed. And yes -- it's THAT Faust -- a real historical figure who is also the basis for a few plays where Faust makes a deal with the devil. I kind of wish I had known more about the actual man and his legend before reading the story because it's really kind of weird. There's actually a lot of the book towards the end that I think kind of went over my head -- legends and mythologies that I should maybe have known but really don't. Let's just say that it starts to get weird -- like Pendurra is the site magic, legends, mythological creatures are starting to seep back into the world.
I also didn't like the way Advent ended. The last eight pages, which weren't even the whole of the last chapter, took the reader to a whole different place. Just a weird ending. I get that it's going to be part of the next book but I think it should have been either sectioned off as an Afterward, a separate chapter at least, or left for the next book.
So it ended up being a tad bit of a disappointment -- mainly because for most of the book I LOVED it. I just felt muddled at the end. Sometimes I think that's the way I feel when I read a trilogy book. You don't get that satisfying feeling at the end. I also didn't like the Faust sections as well and a lot of the legend/mythological stuff kind of went over my head.
What do you think? Does this book sound like a book you'd be interested in reading? Do you like trilogies? I think I'm going to give book #2 a try when it comes out and see where the story is going.
Here's an alternate cover that I don't like as much:
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