"What no one knew was who the boy was, and neither did he. Wasn't a memory left in the boy's head; everything about his past was gone...except for the note." - Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Kaleb Nation
We've all heard about them or seen them. You know, those odd little creatures with the conical hats found in gardens. Up to this point, I've never had the slightest desire to place a gnome anywhere near my home. But after reading Kaleb Nation's debut fantasy book, I just might change my mind. Maybe. It's a thought, anyway.
Of course Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse isn't completely about little gnomes. Actually it's mostly about an orphaned chap named Bran Hambric who struggles to figure out where he fits in a magical world gone awry. After a childhood of not knowing, he discovers the truth about his perplexing past, a past deeply entrenched in an evil sort of magic and a terrible secret curse.
The book begins with a prologue. A six-year-old boy named Bran turns up inexplicably, locked in a bank vault in a city called Dunce--the only city in the world that does not allow magic of any sort. No gnomes, no mages. No magic. A banker named Sewey Wilomas discovers Bran in the vault and finds himself responsible for the boy due to a Finders Keepers Law. Bran ends up living with the very annoying Wilomas family, and they treat him like dirt. A ripped note stating his name and birth date is the only clue to his past. Fast forward eight years later. Bran still lives with the Wilomases and one fateful night finds himself face-to-face with a scary creature. He learns his mother was a powerful mage that used dark magic in horrific ways, discovers the reason for the torn note and determines the meaning behind a special crescent moon necklace. Along his journey of discovery he makes a few new mage friends and meets a gnome named Polland.
Young author Kaleb Nation creatively depicts an exciting magical world in his suspenseful middle grade/YA fantasy. There's many obvious similarities between Bran Hambric and the beloved Harry Potter series--orphaned boy, magical world, an evil counterpart, unpleasant family life. But Nation has developed the city of Dunce and all the people and creatures inside and outside the city entirely from his own imagination. The scenes involving the Wilomas family in the beginning of the book bog down the story a bit, but the pace picks up when Bran learns more about magic and meets some mages and magical characters. Written using uncomplicated language, the book is sure to appeal to all those young readers that have been clamoring for Harry Potter read-a-likes. Nation makes readers chuckle with his over-the-top characters and even a few clever word plays, like measuring magical power in witts, calling those with the most, brightwitts and those with the least, dimwitts. Just so readers know, there are a number of slightly violent scenes involving guns, death and troubling dark magic in this book but nothing is especially graphic. The enticing artwork by Brandon Dorman on the cover is worth a mention and deserves a big thumbs up. The book leaves quite a few questions unanswered and Kalab Nation has plans for a sequel. I'm hoping to learn more about the gnomes and their sacred Givvyng Tree!
As part of his homeschool education, Kaleb Nation started writing the book at the age of 14 and worked on it throughout his teenage years. Currently 20 years old, his young age makes this debut book an impressive accomplishment. Highly ambitious, Kalab Nation is also a successful blogger at his popular TwilightGuy.com website.
Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Kaleb Nation. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 2009); 464 pages; ISBN 9781402218576 (Ages 9-12/YA)
Book Source: ARC copy provided by for free by Sourcebooks. All quotations should be checked against final version. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)
Bran Hambric - Official Website
Kaleb Nation - Author Website
Downloadable preview of the first 4 chapters of Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse
List of Harry Potter Readalikes from Infosoup.org
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Win a copy! This review is part of the Bran Hambric blog tour, and Sourcebooks has kindly offered to give away a copy of Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse to a Brimful Curiosities reader.
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