Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Review: The Shadow of Camelot

Another adventure unfolds as twins Jemima and Joe, Charlie (best friend and neighbour) and Max, their talking (yes, talking!) Tonkinese cat, embark on yet another adventure in The Shadow of Camelot. The twins have still not found their missing parents, trapped somewhere in the past, and have been on five amazing adventures so far with the help of an ancient magical book and the key to open it – kept safely on a chain around Jemima’s neck. They always get hints and clues to their parents’ whereabouts and hope that the next adventure will be the one to restore their mother and father. In the meantime, they live with their studious Uncle Richard, who is a Professor of Archaeology at London University and doesn’t suspect a thing.

The magic begins with the Prologue, and the wizard Merlin hard at work, trying to see if a prophecy will come true, and if he can summon help from the future. His assistant is a gorgeous black cat appropriately named Midnight. In the meantime, fast forward to the future where Joe catches a book as it falls off a shelf in Uncle Richard’s study. Is that a voice he hears calling for help …? It seems to come from between the pages of the book entitled King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Using Jemima’s key, the kids and Max (feeling as reluctant as ever about yet another foray into foreign climes) open their ancient book which had served as a portal before to the past and arrive … in Merlin’s cave. This adventure is definitely going to be different because magic is at work – they are needed for a very special purpose, actually Max (to his horror) seems to be the one who is needed the most, in order to fulfil a prophecy and assist Arthur in defeating his greatest foe.

Wendy Leighton-Porter has another winner in The Shadow of Camelot, Book 6 in her time travel fantasy adventure series Shadows From the Past. Reluctant hero Max deserves a very special mention. Some (cats) are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Max definitely experiences the latter. Although truly faint of heart, he reprises his role as a messenger of the gods, assuming the form of an ancient cat spirit, Cattus Britannicus, a role requiring a disguise as well. He is joined in this enterprise by Midnight, who assumes the suitably dramatic role of Felina Malina, and together they achieve the impossible. This was one of the funniest parts of the book. Max rises to the occasion and surprises everyone, including himself the most.

The author effectively recreates the court of Camelot, along with characters familiar to readers and fans of Arthuriana: various knights, including Sir Lancelot (with a truly hilarious French accent) who discovers that, since the twins share his name, they are related. He also gives some information about the twins’ parents. Other well known characters include Arthur himself, of course, Guinevere, and Arthur’s evil sister Morgana, who has her own villainous part to play. The story encompasses real events, places, and historical characters, adding to the fascinating story around Arthur and Camelot.

Arthurian fans will heave a huge sigh of relief to discover that Arthur’s initial choices of name for Excalibur were voted down. In fact, Wendy Leighton-Porter has put an entirely new spin on the origins of Excalibur that I found truly unique. The end notes also amplify the facts and the fiction about Arthur, the man, the king, and if he did exist. If you have been following the series, this will be another delightful adventure to enjoy with our young heroes and feline. This is an engaging read for the young and young at heart with action, adventure, feats of daring, time travel, magic, fun and lots of very clever ideas! Five stars!

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