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The Hound of Rowan: The Tapestry, Book 1
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is some moderately rough violence here. More disturbing is that Max is encouraged by his teachers and headmistress to lie to and deceive his caring father, and they magically manipulate his father's feelings and memory when he doesn't go along. Max is also left alone overnight at home, only to allow in two strangers, one of whom lies to Max's friends so that he can spend the night at Max's house.
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What's the story?
Max McDaniels discovers he has magical powers when he receives an invitation to attend Rowan Academy, a secret school of magic. But he also learns that other children with similar talents have been disappearing, and that an ancient enemy may be reawakening and searching for him, in fulfillment of a prophecy, as a means of reentering the living world.
Is it any good?
Ok, let's get the obvious out of the way first: Yes, there are many similarities to the Harry Potter series; if that bothers you, then don't even bother picking this up. On the other hand, if something like Harry is just what you've been looking for, then this is the series for you.
While the characters could be more clearly delineated, the setting and set-ups are vivid and fascinating. The author takes the time to explore the school: the bedrooms that change to suit their occupants; the Sanctuary, wherein live magical creatures, sometimes the last of their kinds, that the students are assigned to care for and bond with; and the Smithy, where the students undergo combat training in holodeck-like simulations of increasing difficulty. One could spend a great deal of time finding both favorable and unfavorable comparisons between the Tapestry and Harry Potter series, but it's a pointless exercise: on its own merits, this is an exciting and clever story, and a promising debut of both a new author and a new fantasy series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families who read this book could discuss the inevitable comparisons to Harry Potter. What are the similarities, both large and small? What are the differences? Does it matter if a book is similar to another? Is this different from movies or TV shows that are similar to each other?