Think Harry Potter meets the X-Men. Then make everyone much younger and you’ll have something similar to Charlie Bone. There are some times while reading that I have to remember the characters are eight to sixteen years old. Their decisions are young (obviously) and their ability to forgive is more logical than it would be for adults. It’s hard to hold a powerful grudge against an eight year old.
Charlie Bone is an endowed. Descendents of the Red King frequently inherit some of his powers and to Charlie’s disappointment he has the ability to hear the thoughts and words from pictures. Disappointed because after his talent is discovered his conniving aunts send him off to a prestigious boarding school where the exceptionally talented go. This includes those who have special gifts.
But when he arrives there he finds himself caught in the middle of a war that has been silently waging for centuries between the children of the Red King. As questions arise Charlie will have to rely on his new friends to find the answers and shift the balance away from those with darker intentions.
I was attracted to this book because the characters weren’t trying to save everyone on a global scale. The school is run by a corrupt family who’s goal is to finish the decade old fight for power. Charlie Bone is also a young boy with a great deal of limitations but it provides a good message: everyone needs help from family and friends. Charlie’s ability isn’t powerful and so he must often go to others to help him solve a problem. Though he is only a boy he shows, what I think to be, the key attribute of any leader. He knows when to seek help from others.
Jenny Nemo also created a cast of characters that showed the large display of human nature. There were more than good and bad. There were neutral or oblivious characters as well, and not all of them are shown in a positive light. Some of the good characters have a variety of negative traits, but they over come them in the end, which incidentally adds another level of conflict and resolution to the series.
As a children’s book it is great. It has relatable characters, moral messages, and a fun plot. It is very much a children’s book, so if you are interested in literature with greater depth than you may not be interested, but I would recommend it to anyone young at heart who is interested in fantasy.