A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
Blake and his younger, smarter sister, Duck, are hanging around Oxford while their mother works on her research. Mostly they're left in the Bodleian Library, where Blake discovers a strange, blank book called Endymion Spring.
The book, which seems to be alive, and which reveals bits of text only to Blake (much to Duck's annoyance) sets them on a quest for The Last Book, pursued by various greedy and dangerous adults.
Interspersed throughout are chapters in which Endymion Spring, a printer's devil in Gutenberg's workshop, tells the story of how he brought the book from Germany and hid it in Oxford.
Is it any good?
Though it's undeniably an exciting page-turner and will have special appeal to children who love books, ENDYMION SPRING doesn't quite live up to its initial promise. The concept is intriguing and the Oxford setting is vivid, but the plot goes all fuzzy and wanders around -- it would have benefited from a stronger editorial hand. The characters are rather flat and the author creates more of them than he has any use for. By the end it's unclear what, if anything, has happened, or just what the magic is all about -- the blank book is as mysterious as ever.
Nevertheless, several of the scenes are brilliant, especially Endymion's escape from Mainz and Blake and Duck's scary exploration through the catacombs. First-time author Matthew Skelton shows great promise, but he needs to learn to get a firmer handle on his plot and to develop his characters so that they grow and catch the reader's sympathy.