New Orleans, Louisiana
Will works evenings at Medieval Nights, a joust-themed dinner theater. A few nights a week, to help his finances, he engages in staged battles with a group of fellow under-achieving twenty-somethings. To Will’s disappointment, he knows this is as close to Middle Earth as he will ever get. His brother, Caleb, is a bartender at the House of Spirits, and Val is the oldest brother and a corporate lawyer. Will’s routine includes two drinks at the House of Spirits, a little online gaming, then asleep by midnight, so he can get to his day job as a general contractor’s assistant.
Will’s unfortunate tendency towards severe panic attacks precludes him from any career with danger or stress. Because of this, the closest he gets to excitement is with Lance Wesson, his high school friend, who is a police officer. One evening during Will’s ride-along, they receive a call about a dog howling in the cemetery. Thinking this could be interesting, even Will gets out of the car. As they move through the headstones the howling dog can be heard and is suddenly directly in front of Will, leaping on him with chomping teeth. Lance fires his pistol and the monster runs. The young men give chase and see it disappear in the direction of the nearest home, a huge two-story with a wrap-around porch. At first, it seems to be abandoned, until a man opens the door, dressed as an eighteenth-century French aristocrat, reminding Will of a costume party. During their conversation they learn absolutely nothing, other than the fact that this situation is starting to creep Will out.
The next night, having nothing to occupy his mind, Will decides to spy on the freaky guy in the mansion. Climbing a tree and using his binoculars, he sees the man in a room lined with shelves, crammed with books and the occasional skull. Two people enter, dressed in white, and begin dusting and sweeping. Only they’re not people dressed in white; they are skeletons busily cleaning. Suddenly, one turns towards the window and Will can sense that he’s been noticed. The man jumps to his feet and rushes to the window, just as Will’s branch gives way with a loud crack.
Charles Zalinkski, a friend of the brothers’ father, calls Will and requests a meeting with all the Blackwood brothers, which Will finds odd, but lately there seems to be a lot of weird things going around. Upon meeting with Charles, they are shocked and disbelieving when he explains he is a member of an organization that studies magic. Also, he has promised their father to watch over them if there came a time that the boys needed to know more of their circumstances, and just perhaps some of their talents. Charles explains their father was a wizard and from another world. As Charles tries to tell them more about their father, the back door of the bar is flung open, as the man from the cemetery comes striding into the parking lot carrying a bag of bones.
Thus begins the adventure of a lifetime.
This is an intriguing story with lots of action. One thing with fantasy is that the author can take the story almost anywhere, stretching the reader’s imagination. It’s a long story at three-hundred and thirty-three pages, but it never drags. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters and, of course, Will’s mental health issue is a real attention grabber. Naturally, they will visit another world and that is total entertainment, as they adjust to being Beginners in the arena of magic. This is a great read and I think most of us will enjoy this book.
- Genre and general reading age – This is YA fantasy. Both adults and teens will appreciate it.
- Level of sexuality – Low.
- Is there graphic language? Very little.
- Did I cry? No.
- Did I laugh? Sometimes.
- Is this part of a series? Yes, this is book one of the Blackwood Saga.
- Level of character development – I found them to be fairly well-developed and obviously some of the main characters will be embellished in the sequel.
I gladly give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.