Author: Donald Hounam
Series: Gifted #1 (possibly not the real title of the series as it doesn’t have one on Goodreads, but there is an extract from book two in the back of book one)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Summary (from Goodreads)
The Bishop of Oxford is very, very dead. At least the police think it’s the Bishop – it’s impossible to be sure, since someone has made off with his head.
Fifteen-year-old Frank Sampson is the forensic sorcerer on the case. But he is easily distracted. By Kazia, the supposed victim’s beautiful, and possibly dangerous, niece. By Marvo, his police colleague, who seems dead set on making his life difficult. By the terror that he’s losing his Gift – the ability to work magic. And by all those stupid rules which get in the way of proving that everybody is wrong about the case . . . except Frank.
Oh, I so wanted to like this. That cover is so gorgeous and, you know, wizards and stuff.
Alas, it was not to be. Though there were a lot of really cool ideas in this book, my overall feeling on reading it was one of irritation. So much so that when the reveal of the big bad happened, I mostly just felt relieved that it was almost over. Not the emotion I think the author was aiming for.
The irritation stemmed from Frank’s narration. He was like a typical teenage boy – meandering thought process, dwelling on irrelevancies, jumping around in his attention and focused on girls. Very good characterisation on Hounam’s part, but it made the narrative difficult to follow at times. Things I felt were probably important were skipped over, and there were a few ‘if you know what I mean’ moments where I felt like shouting at the book ‘No! No I don’t know what you mean!’ Which mostly made me feel like I was missing something, and that hampered how much I enjoyed the story.
There was great stuff in there, though, so it’s not all negative. I really like how visceral the sorcery was, with dead cat bits and human body parts used to create the spells, and the demons were pretty gross too. I liked some of the interaction between the characters, and felt there was enough room in the world for further exploration. I’m just not sure I’ve enjoyed the story in this instalment enough to come back to it, which is a shame.