Monday, December 14, 2009

Charlie Bone and the Children of the Red King isn't just for kids

I have been on a kick recently reading children fiction. I love kid's fiction.  This genre is as wide in flavor as adult fiction but without all the baggage.  What I mean by that is there is no extraneous/over the top sex, language, or violence to get in the way of the story.  Take the Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimo.  At first glance one might think this is a take off of another great children series, Harry Potter but it is really quite different and a most excellent story.
Charlie Bone isn't a wizard but he is "Endowed".  Being endowed means you have a special gift.  Charlie discovers his endowment when he turns 11. He can communicate with people in pictures. Being endowed only happens to descendants of the ancient royal Red King. There are good and bad factions of the Red King's family. I am sure you can guess which side Charlie is on.
Charlie lives with his mom, his Grandma Maise, Grandma Bone and his Uncle Paton.  This is one dysfunctional family.  Charlie's dad has gone missing.  Grandma Bone who is Charlie's dad's mom is suspected in his disappearance.  She along with her evil Yewbeam sisters are in cahoots with the owner of Bloors Academy, a special school for artistic and gifted children.  Bloors Academy is a creepy and gloomy place where the kids stay Monday through Friday and get weekends home.  The headmaster is the grandson of a very bad, creepy old man named Ezekial Bloor. He is searching through the endowed students to find those that would aid him in bringing back his ancestor Borlath.  Borlath was an evil man who could make and throw fire. Ezekial believes if he can bring back Borlath then together they will become the most powerful men in the world and his family will rule everyone.  Isn't the plan of all bad guys?   Charlie and his mom live with his grandma, mainly because they don't have any place else to go and Grandma Bone wants to hang onto Charlie in the hopes he has a powerful endowment and it can be used to help them take over. Uncle Paton is Charlie's paternal great Uncle and while his last name is Yewbeam he is one of the good guys.  He too is endowed with a special gift that makes going out at night very difficult.  Paton is often a major player in Charlies adventures and Charlie helps him realize he can have a full life even if light bulbs tend to explode around him. Charlie's mom and grandma Maise are good women but can't stand against Grizelda and accept living there until they figure out what else they can do.

The Charlie Bone series is right now at 7 books. The 8th and final book in the series is currently being released.  Each book is a new adventure with Charlie at the center working through a new mystery and defeating the evil Bloors and Yewbeams.  Charlie becomes friends with both endowed and non-endowed kids and they all take part in Charlies trials.  The cast of supporting characters is wonderful and as always, (in my opinion), make the story.  Fidelio, Gabriel, Olivia, Lysander are all endowed children like Charlie and they make up the courageous band who stand up against the evil plans of the bad guys. Benjamin Brown is Charlie's best friend and neighbor.  While Benjamin isn't endowed he is as much part of Charlie's adventures as the endowed kids. Then there are Mr. and Mrs. Onimus who own a pet cafe.  You can't come in if you don't have a pet.  They own the cats called the Flames.  These three mystical and magical cats are kind of like the guardians of the good endowed children.
No adventure would be complete without evil opponents and the bad guys are not limited to the elder Bloors and Yewbeams.  Endowments aren't just for nice kids.  There are enemies among the student body.  Manfred Bloor is Ezekial Bloor's great grandson.  His power to hypnotize is fading but he is developing his ancestor's fire power.  He hates Charlie.  Dorcas Loom who can enchant clothing, Joshua Tilpin who has a magnetic personality, and Dagbert Endless whose loyalty changes with the tides has the ability to drown people make for a gruesome crew with Manfred.
Over the 7 books Charlie discovers what happened to his father, beats the Bloors by  freeing a python with a magical bite that can turn someone invisible.  The now freed python gladly reverses his bite on an invisible boy who had been held captive in Bloors Academy. He  enters the portrait of an ancient magician only to find out they are related and Charlie has more skills than talking to pictures. He gets haunted by a ghostly horse.  He helps save his orphan friend from fiendish foster parents with the help of the 3 Flames. Interesting and fun characters fill every book.  Mystery, adventure, and excitement abounds in each episode.
Do yourself a favor and checkout the kids shelves at the library or bookstore for excellent adventures.

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