A copy of this book was provided for review by the publisher via NetGalley.
A drowning, a magician’s curse, and a centuries-old secret.
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 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 same strange claim: magic exists, it’s leaking back into our world, and it’s bringing something terrible with it.
The sheer imaginative power of James Treadwell overwhelms me. Advent is a dark, fantastical adventure that intertwines the compelling myths of Johann Faust and Cassandra, and hurls them into the present day to collide with the life of fifteen year old Gavin Stokes. Gavin has been able to see things others can’t all his life, things that don’t make sense and upset his parents greatly. The blending between this world and the mystical are flawless in Advent. The story unfolds slowly, with half forgotten conversations and remarks revealed as important foreshadows of what was to come. Nothing truly makes sense until right at the end of the novel as all the plot elements come together in a thunderous conclusion.
The story unfolds in unpredictable ways and is told with masterful skill. There isn’t a dull moment, and while sometimes I did find myself wishing for a respite between the all the eerie encounters Gavin has with the inhabitants of Pendurra, I thoroughly enjoyed being on the edge of my seat! The power in Treadwell’s narration comes from invoking the reader’s deep sated fear of the unknown and unseen. Since Gavin is kept in the dark about what is really going on at Pendurra, so is the reader, and one feels his desperation and terror keenly. Although marketed as a YA novel, Advent doesn’t shy away from complex language and themes, which makes it perfect for audiences of any age group in my opinion.
As a fifteen year old who is disconnected in the worst ways from his parents, I had feared that Gavin would wallow in self-pity. However, he is surprisingly strong-willed and endures through conditions that would have broken many other kids his age. His father dislikes him intensely, bordering on hatred, and his mother is afraid of him. They are both desperate for Gavin to stop making up stories, as they see it, and behave like a normal person. A lifetime of ridicule and feeling unwanted wherever he goes has made Gavin reluctant to draw attention to himself, and it was great to see him develop out of this shell over the novel.
A thinking book, Advent will linger in your mind for days after you read it. It surpasses a lot of the YA I read these days and I am looking forward to the sequel.
About the book:
- Date published: 3rd July 2012
- Publisher: Simon and Schuster, Inc. (Atria Books)
- Format: Hardback, 464 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781451661644 ISBN 10: 1451661649
- Categories: Young Adult
- Goodreads / The Book Depository