Saturday, June 05, 2010

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight by Jenny Nimmo

Charlie Bone is one of the descendants of the Red Knight, a fabled magician who lived long ago. Each descendant has a magical talent, and Charlie's is that he can speak with people in old photographs and paintings, and can travel into the painting as well. Charlie was being raised by his mother, a former shop assistant, after the disappearance of his father, but recently, Charlie found his father was alive and well, working at Charlie's school, the Bloor Academy, as a music teacher. He'd been hypnotized to forget all about his family.

Now that his father has been restored, his parents took a long cruise vacation around the world to remember each other and rebuild their relationship- leaving Charlie behind. Not all his endowed relatives are nice people- His grandmother is wicked and cruel, and his great-aunts are worse. Only his Uncle Paton seems nice, and in fact, is working against Charlie's Wicked Great-Aunts.

Even more recently, a boy named Dagbert Endless joined the school. Dagbert is the son of Lord Grimwald, an endowed who has control over the seas. In his family, the father and son must fight for control of the seas when the son reaches 13. Dagbert has one present from his mother, a set of sea-gold charms meant to protect him. Unfortunately, Tancred Torsson, one of Charlie's friends, got into an argument over the charms with Dagbert, and Dagbert used his powers to drown Tancred. Thankfully, the three cats of the Red Knight, known as the Flames, brought Tancred back, but nobody but Charlie and his friends knows that Tancred survived his drowning, thanks to the Flames. They are hiding this knowledge from everyone so that Tancred can work in secret against the Bloors.

But now the forces of evil amongst the endowed and the descendants of the Red Knight are coming together to summon back Harken the Enchanter from where he has been imprisoned in another world. At the same time, they are looking for a special box left behind by Billy Raven's father- a box that may prove that it is Billy Raven and his family who are really heirs to the school now known as the Bloor Academy.

But Dagbert's father has shown up with his Sea Globe, with the mission of drowning Charlie Bone's parents on their sea cruise. Dagbert, knowing it will soon be either him or his father leaving this world, begs Charlie to hide his sea-gold charms, but Charlie is angry with Dagbert for drowning Tancred, and tells him to hide them himself, even though Dagbert pleads with him.

The only hope for Charlie and his friends to keep the world free and out of the hands of the wicked endowed is to hope for help from the Red Knight. But the Red Knight has been turned into a tree, though the heart of a man still beats deep within the wood and bark- and the Red Knight has passed on his cloak and helmet to another- but who is he? The Bloors want to know, and they think Charlie knows- so Manfred Bloor kidnaps Charlie to question him with all his powers of hypnotism.

But Charlie doesn't know, and his friend Olivia has been magicked to the side of the Wicked Endowed by means of an enchanted Vest- and his friend Billy is still in the land on the other side of the Mirror of Amoret, happy with his life there. Can Charlie bring back Billy, uncover who the new Red Knight is, and bring down the wicked Endowed when so many are working against him and his friends? Even with the help of the Flames, the outcome this time may be in doubt.

This is the last book in the Charlie Bone series, although I didn't know that when I picked it up, and now, after reading it, I can only say that as an ending, I felt it was somewhat disappointing. I never felt, during the story, that this was leading to an ending to the entire series, just an ending to another book.

I didn't get much of a sense of suspense from the book, despite the author trying to instill one in me. It was more of the same- Charlie's parents are still on vacation... another threat has shown up in town- the Pets Cafe is still closed... yadda yadda. By the end of the book, I honestly felt "That was it?" For an ending to the series it was seriously... anti-climactic.

I never felt that the characters were in any real danger- the only people who died were the wicked enchanted, not Charlie or any on his side. Okay, yes, there was one person who I sort of thought might bite it, but they didn't, and I didn't feel shocked or upset, more sort of "Oh, well."

In the end, I'd mark this series as only "Okay". It never made me feel like the characters were actually in trouble. In fact, it kind of gave me the impression that the author had either run out of steam, or ideas, or interest in writing the character. A luckluster ending to a series that never really ascended to greatness. Not recommended.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This book was one of the most amazing books ive ever read the most amazing series yet the ending bit ... it needs more But somehow i feel connected the the book and i loved it every minute of it there should be a 9th book telling a bit more about what their lives led on to be like