Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Book Review: Mariah Mundi

The Gatekeeper's life has been stuck in a whirlwind of late. Thus her brain has had quite the challenge to come back to Earth, so to speak. She has three book reviews to write, one being for Mariah Mundi, but alas, she flounders.

However, we have found a worthy review by Jill Murphy of "The Book Bag" in the UK and shall publish it here for our enjoyment. Mariah Mundi will be released on September 6th, we have not been told the release date in the US, so reserve your copy right now. We shall discuss the Mariah Mundi treasure hunt in a later post. Original manuscripts worth thousands of that British money is hidden around Scarborough amongst other treasures. In any case, here's the review by Jill Murphy.

Sidebar: They're touting it as a successor to Harry Potter, but I think it surpasses Potter on just about every level there is. Highly recommended. (Jill Murphy)

Mariah Mundi has ended his time at the Colonial School without a family to go home to. His parents are missing, presumed dead, somewhere in the Sudan. So Mariah is sent to take up employment at the Prince Regent Hotel, a fabulous place filled with inventions and luxury. It even has a steam-operated lift. Mariah is to be apprenticed to the Great Bizmillah, the magician at the hotel's theatre. It doesn't take long for Mariah and his new-found friend Sasha to discover some unwelcome secrets about the Prince Regent. Previous boys sent there from the Colonial School have all disappeared and to where, nobody knows. In an Egyptian sarcophagus deep in the bowels of the hotel's basement, Mariah and Sasha find a shocking clue to their fate.

But in whom can they trust? Definitely not in the hotel owner, the narcoleptic Otto Luger, or his girlfriend Monica, who never removes her hands from their silk gloves. The Great Bizmillah isn't a good option - he is seen in furtive conversations with the mysterious Isambard Black who follows Mariah about in a very suspicious way. Even Captain Jack Charity with his pet crocogon Cuba doesn't seem to be telling all that he knows.

The Midas Box is dark, dense and exciting and it doesn't make any concessions to its young readers. The narrative is a combination of fantasy quest and whodunnit and every character has ambiguities. You're never quite sure in whom to trust. Moreover, you're never quite sure that characters are the people they claim to be, or even the people they actually were in the last chapter. There are moral certainties but everyone is tempted, and the trick in the book is in establishing who is going to emerge unscathed. Unashamedly, there is an awful lot going on - no decision is devoid of consequences and sometimes costly compromises must be made.

There's a wonderful Dickensian atmosphere to it all and the Prince Regent Hotel, carved into a cliff, rises like a colossus out of the sea's mists, a representation of humanity's arrogance and cruelty but also its potential. Its green, slimy basements belie the luxury and invention at its top. It really is wonderful, wonderful stuff. Underneath the action, there is a wealth of subtle jokes and puns - handkerchiefs become hankersniffs for example - and you have the wonderful feeling that the more times you read this book, the more it will open itself up to you.

I'm removing half a Bookbag star for accessibility. There were times when, even reading as an adult, I found parts of The Midas Box difficult to follow and the book is dense enough to prove daunting for some less confident readers. However, this is not a real criticism; I'm all for books that challenge and books that pay even greater dividends on second and subsequent readings and The Midas Box does both. They're touting it as a successor to Harry Potter, but I think it surpasses Potter on just about every level there is. Highly recommended.

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There you go my friends. The Gatekeeper shall finish her own copy soon and report her two cents worth. I would have a link for you all to buy the book but nobody seems to be selling it yet. No fear, you shall find it here . . . soon.


Lady G~ said...

I can't wait to get my little hands on this series. :o) Do keep me posted.

The Gatekeeper said...

Yes, I know you will absolutely love it. I'm half way through it. I apologize not getting a copy out to you, or a few of my other readers. Me thinks Mr. Taylor just got busy and hasn't had a chance to contact Faber who might have given away as many as they are going to. Hopefully I'll have news of the situation soon.

John W Senior GHV TD said...

I am glad you are enjoying GPs new offering, I thought it was awfully good too! If you or any of your friends are tempted to visit Scarborough for the 8th Sept, then do pop in and see us at the Golden Grid Harbourside Fish Restaurant and enjoy a steaming plate of the Worlds best Fish and chips!
Your Obedient Servant
The Captain XX

The Gatekeeper said...

Oh, sadness!!! John, I soooooo want to go. I want to go! Did I mention, I want to go? Sigh. Maybe Lady G. and I will save our pennies and catch the red eye. You never know.

Naomi said...

I've heard so much about GP Taylor's new book Gatekeeper. I'm looking forward to reading it. It sounds like a worthy succesor to Harry Potter. JK Rowling has been spotted writing drafts of crime novels. Sounds like she is moving in a new direction now.

BTW You've won another award:-

The Gatekeeper said...

Yes, I read somewhere that Ms. Rowling was moving into the crime genre. It might have been at your blog. mmmm.

Another award! Sooooo coool. I humbly accept.