THOMAS WILDUS AND THE BOOK OF SORROWS
by J.M. Bergen
Middle Grade Fantasy
ages 8 to 12
FEBRUARY 2nd, 2019!
Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real.
Seven years have passed, and Thomas hasn't forgotten. He hasn't forgotten the blue of his dad's eyes either, or the tickle of beard on his cheek as they hugged goodbye. Last moments with a parent are memorable, even if you don't know that's what you're having at the time.
Now, with his 13th birthday rapidly approaching, Thomas's search for magic is about to take a radical and unexpected turn. At an out-of-the-way shop filled with dusty leather books, a strange little man with gold-flecked eyes offers him an ancient text called The Book of Sorrows. The price is high and the rules are strict, but there's no way Thomas can resist the chance to look inside.
With the mysterious book guiding the way, a strange new world is revealed – a world in which Thomas has a name and destiny far more extraordinary than he ever imagined. But time is short. Even as Thomas uncovers his secret family history, enemies emerge, threatening to end his rise to power and destroy everything he holds dear.
Thomas is around thirteen years of age, has been missing his father for seven years and is on a constant search for something many people don't believe exists—magic. When he happens across an older bookstore and discovers The Book of Sorrows, he's sure he's finally found what he's been looking for. The bookstore, however, won't just hand it over to him. There are rules he needs to follow if he wants to have it, which he agrees to. But having this book, along with the knowledge gained from several other people entering his life, does more than open up the door to magic. Thomas' life turns upside down, and with it, comes an entire world of danger.
Imagination soars in this tale, allowing the reader to follow an easy to relate to character on an exciting adventure. Accompanied by a wide cast of diverse characters, Thomas is a boy with a keen sense of right vs. wrong, curiosity and determination. The first chapters allow the reader to get to know Thomas and his life at home and school, while laying the groundwork to the approaching adventure. It does take a bit for the main thrust of the story to get going, but by then, it's hard not to cheer for Thomas until the very end.
Thomas is thirteen, has a crush on a girl (which is very sweet), and simply is a little more independent than younger readers. There's a little violence...nothing over the top...and especially the passages from The Book of Sorrows, which are written in an older English form, will cause younger readers problems. So, I recommend this one for ages ten and up. It's a lovely mixture of adventure and humor, especially where Thomas' best friend is involved; the doodle wars are simply a treat. Their interactions flowed very naturally as they feed off of each other and bring a wonderful amount of fun. The dialogue between the two didn't always fit, though, as certain terms and phrases are a little out-dated for the age group. But then, the writing could have been tighter at several moments in the story. This, however, doesn't ruin the adventure, which keeps rolling until the last page.
Predictable is not a word which can describe this book as Thomas faces exciting surprises and tense moments. The villains are deliciously threatening although they hover more in the shadows, the magic and past holds all sorts of secrets, and nothing is as clear as it first seems. Thomas has his hands full and keeps the readers right there with him. There's a wonderful message around friendship and a warming support given from those around him. In other words, it's a world to get lost in and one fantasy friends are sure to enjoy.
And here he is...