Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Double-Edged Sword by Sarah Silverwood

The Double-Edged Sword: The Nowhere Chronicles, Book One, by Sarah Silverwood. Gollancz 2010. £9.99
Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Finmere Tingewick Smith’s sixteenth birthday, and his odd world is just about to get a lot odder. Abandoned as a baby with nothing but an old woollen blanket and a man’s ring to identify him, he was raised by the venerable Judge Brown and the old men of Orrery House. Strange enough one might think; but he in fact spent alternate years at separate schools – meaning that he has two very different best friends. Then the Judge is murdered and Fin is plunged into a dual world: the London that he recognises in what is called the Somewhere, and an alternate London that exists in the realm of Nowhere. It’s the Knights of Nowhere with their double-edged swords, and the missing woman known as the Storyholder, who are tearing his previously comfortable world apart.

This is a fun book full of swashbuckling sword play, with secret doorways into hidden realms, and old men who are not at all what they seem. It cracks on at a breakneck pace, never dwelling on any one section for long so that the attention does not have the time to wander. Yet even at full-tilt The Double-Edged Sword remains a fully fleshed world inhabited by three-dimensional characters.

The ending is, of course, of the cliff hanger variety in true Saturday Cinema tradition. It just begs the reader to hang on for the next thrilling instalment, and I am certain most readers will be queuing avidly for future episodes in the life of Finmere Tingewick Smith. (As an aside, the acknowledgement page owns up to a number of borrowed names – and for those in the know it can be fun spotting them.)

The main protagonist is sixteen but does feel somewhat younger at times. This, I suspect, is because the book is aimed at a target audience of nine-plus – readers invariably prefer to read ‘up’. That said, this book is not confined to that demographic: it is eminently readable by just about anyone, male or female. Search no longer for that elusive Christmas stocking treat for the young fantasy reader in your family: this is it. Excellent storytelling; recommended.

No comments: