Gr 4-8-When Marcel is delivered to an orphanage in the middle of the night, the wizard Lord Alwyn and his magical Book of Lies take away his memories of his previous life. Only the intervention of another orphan, Bea, allows Marcel to remember his true name. It soon becomes apparent that while he doesn't remember his past, it has followed him and links him to two other orphans, Nicola and Fergus. The three soon escape and become involved in the politics of their kingdom and the conflict between King Pelham and his rivals, Prince Damon and Princess Eleanor. Marcel and the other children discover that they play a key role in the conflicts that will shape their land's future, but first they must understand the treachery and lies that surround their own identities. Marcel is a sympathetic main character, though his reactions to the changes in his life seem shallow at times and the discovery of his own powers lacks drama. Supporting characters tend to dramatic gestures, but they lack depth and motivation. Moloney has created a number of unusual magical creatures that will catch readers' imaginations, including the sorcerer's unique flying horse and the Book of Lies itself, which becomes more mysterious and sinister as the story progresses. While this novel lacks the emotional depth to be truly outstanding, Marcel's search for identity will ring true to readers on the verge of adolescence.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Moloney (A Bridge to Wiseman's Cove) starts off with an interesting premise before meandering into pedestrian fantasy territory. A boy is brought to an orphanage and implanted with a false memory and given the name Marcel. He meets a girl named Bea who tells him of the magician Lord Alwyn who lives in the tower above the orphanage. Bea shows Marcel a book created by Lord Alwyn when he was "Master of the Royal Books"; this "book of lies" magically displays any spoken words that are untrue. Then a note arrives from someone claiming to be a friend of Marcel's father, asking him to flee; Marcel and three friends manage to escape the orphanage. He and a girl named Nicola learn that they are siblings-and heirs to the throne, which is currently held by the usurper Pelham who ousted their parents. Starkey, the man who wrote the note to Marcel, enlists their help in freeing the "real" king and queen; his motives seem suspicious from the start, making the tale's twist less than surprising. Opening chapters are atmospheric and creepy, and the book of lies itself is one of the most fascinating characters. However, clichis abound-lengthy travel sequences, prophecies of doom, complex monarchial trees-which may disappoint some readers in the end. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.