Please check out the following reviews of my recent book!
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Official Review: The Promise: a perilous journey
Unread post by Mindi » Yesterday, 04:56
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “The Promise: a perilous journey” by Hank Ellis.]
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It is not every book that can portray the true essence of childhood adventure, but Hank Ellis’ The Promise: A Perilous Journey does just that. It is a story that will keep both younger and older readers intrigued even though it appears to be written for a preteen level.
This story is about two brothers, Peter and Dave, who love nature and adventure. They explore a lot in the woods close to their home and discover a hidden cave which leads them to more extraordinary discoveries and adventures. Readers are kept on the edge of their seats while they wonder about the meaning of the boys’ findings.
I would define this book as a type of magical realism. I enjoyed the mix of magical elements and real-life situations that were intertwined throughout the story. There appeared to be a slight coming-of-age theme and various moral life lessons to be learned. It has a weird mix of similarities to Bridge to Terabithia, Chronicles of Narnia and an Amazon video series called Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street. Those stories are all among my favorites which is why I was drawn into this story so much.
One of the aspects of this book that I loved was that it portrayed childhood adventure as it used to be, before cell phones and other technology. There was no indication that the story was set in the past, so it sets a good example of modern-day kids having true childhood experiences without the use of devices. The book also seemed to promote respect for parents and kindness to others. There was also some religious symbolism which is one of the reasons I detected some similarities to works by C.S. Lewis.
This book had very good grammar and appeared to be professionally edited. If there is anything negative to say, I can think of a few times that the brothers’ exploring tended to drag out a bit and get a bit wordy. However, it may have been necessary to lead up to the extent of their discoveries. It definitely is not something that I will take off points for. It’s just a note for those who may read and feel like the storyline is dragging at times. It really does all come together in the end.
I feel like the ending leaves enough questions for a sequel. However, it is also just enough balance of questions and answers for it to be the end, if that is what the author intends. If there is a sequel, I will definitely read it.
I am giving this book 4 out of 4 stars. While I noted a few imperfections, I was very intrigued by Ellis’ writing, and the storyline was very interesting and appealing for all ages. It is a must-read for those with a love for the magic of childhood.
The Promise: a perilous journey
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Two brothers discover a subterranean complex full of puzzles, riddles—and maybe their destiny—in Ellis’ debut middle-grade novel.
It’s June, and 12-year-old Peter Wilson and his 10-year-old brother, Dave, are looking forward to another summer in a forest that borders their backyard. They can’t resist exploring an unusually deep hole and are awed to find themselves in a huge underground room with candle-lined walls and an oversized table and chairs. That night, Peter dreams of the room: a man is sitting at the table, 7 feet tall and “radiating…gentleness and kindness.” The giant speaks a single sentence before Peter wakes up: “The secret is important, but your promise is everything.” Guided by dreams and their own ingenuity, the boys work together to explore the caverns, learning that different combinations of lit and unlit candles open doors to different rooms. Eventually, the man from their dreams reveals himself as Eli, “part of a long line of guardians of the earth” charged by God to “reestablish forest areas, cure plant diseases, and correct other imbalances.” Eli and his fellow caretakers invite the boys to become part of their brotherhood, praising them for being “loving, trustworthy, responsible, and capable of carrying out special tasks.” But there’s a catch: they can never tell anyone. The book’s themes of friendship, responsibility, and curiosity are worthwhile, and the boys’ old-fashioned, outdoorsy childhood is anachronistic (the boys use a two-way radio to keep in touch with their parents rather than a cellphone) but pleasantly nostalgic. Occasional illustrations by Winburn (The Five Colors of Our Nature Walk, 2016, etc.) are a nice touch. But the novel’s biggest weakness is simply that the boys don’t meet Eli in the flesh until late in the book. Far too much of the preceding narrative is taken up by descriptions of cautious rock climbing and solving the candle combinations—both more interesting to do than read about. Besides the boys’ mother, who has no name, only two female characters appear, in single scenes completely unnecessary to the narrative; the ancient, holy guardians are all men.
An underground adventure that takes too long to get going.