I bought this book for one reason. The cover. It attracted me from across the shop. I picked it up and it was short. But the cover is brilliant. A young boy, Arthur, moves to a boarding school where supernatural occurrences happen. He finds himself with a new group of friends, a rival trio of bullies, and a mystery to solve. Sound like anything to you? No? Think again. I don’t believe you if you say no. That’s right Harry Potter. When I started writing this I was going to write a list of similarities. A boarding school. Supernatural. A small village, with a sweet shop, for students to visit. Arthur appears to the only newcomer so everyone knows him (Are you Harry Potter?). A teacher who seems to hate him, when really they are only worried. The school has a long past, and no one outside of the school knows about it. Shall I go on?
Despite the obvious source material I really enjoyed this book. The writing at first is a little sloppy, but gets better as the book progresses and is a really easy read. The plot is interesting and I was looking forward to the next bits. The characters appeared real, and I cared about what happened to them. There is a big twist at the end that really shocked me. I didn’t see it coming, and was surprised. Although someone else I know guessed it. I still thought it was clever. It was just less than 250 pages, which for a YA book is just right. A quick but rewarding read.
I think most people would find something to enjoy about this book. There are varied characters, which are all developed well and have interesting back stories. A gripping plot that carries onto the last pages with twists and turns. A few moments of Gothic suspense. Don’t read it if you are a die hard potter fan. It might annoy you at how much it copies Potter, it did me, but I ignored it and loved the book anyway. It looks like there is going to be a sequel, and I hope there is one. Although I do hope it strays away from Potter clichés.
Grade – 6.5/10 (Would have been 8/10 if it didn’t copy Harry Potter so much)