Release date: April 30, 2013
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The first thing I noticed about The Warner Grimoire was the writing--it was awesome. Clay Held writes clearly and wonderfully, bringing his readers fully into a supernatural world. It was so easy to see how the supernatural world Simon finds himself in is different from the world Simon comes from. I could easily picture the places Simon visited and the people he met.14-year-old Simon Warner isn't having a very good October. To start with, he drowned, and then the real trouble started. Next thing he knows, he's back among the living, and face-to-face with an ghoulish-looking man who kidnaps his adopted father. Enter Nathan Tamerlane, a bonafide wizard, and soon Simon is deep in the hidden world of the supernatural, walking among the Freemancers: a secret society of wizards, and the stewards of all magic on Earth.
Soon the truth is revealed: Simon's birth parents are wicked sorcerers who betrayed the Freemancers years ago before going into hiding. Making matters worse, a cruel and xenophobic warlock named Silas Darrow is gathering his followers (some would say worshipers) to lead an assault on the non-magical world. Now, if Simon ever wants to see his adopted father again, he's going to have to join Darrow's cult. Easier said than done. All it takes is one moment of weakness, and a powerful evil will infest Simon's soul forever.
The story moves quickly; time is not spent dwelling on insignificant things. It's obvious that Clay Held chose his words with care, selecting only the most important things to include in the story, so that readers aren't bogged down by details that don't matter, or slowed down by subplots that don't affect the main story. In a fantasy, it is so important to do what Held did with his book, especially for readers who are testing the waters with fantasy, or who, like myself, only read it on occasion. I really appreciated being able to focus on Simon's story without being distracted by other things.
There were elements of this book that reminded me of Harry Potter, mostly in terms of the set up. For example, Simon meets up with Penny and Luke, and the three form a bond that reminded me of the bond Harry developed with Hermione and Ron. It's a small similarity, but it was there, and I liked it.
Though this book was well-written, with an interesting story and characters, it wasn't quite for me. I'm still hesitant about reading fantasy, and I have been in the mood to read nothing but contemporary YA fiction lately. I'm sure that if I had been in the mood to read a fantasy, I would have enjoyed this book more than I did. Despite the fact that it wasn't for me, The Warner Grimoire is a must-read for fantasy fans.