Speakman, Peter and Galvin, Michael. Rebels of the Lamp (Rebels of the Lamp, #1)
May 12th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Parker Quarry is living in California with his mother, who is struggling to make ends meet since Parker's father is in jail. Parker has trouble fitting into his school and also willfully gets into trouble, so his mother decides to send him to New Hampshire to live with an aunt and uncle. Parker's cousin Theo isn't thrilled to see him, since Parker has always been unkind to him. Parker continues to get into trouble, stealing his uncle's keys to the university, breaking into an archaeologist's office, and stealing a metal tube that is turned in by concerned citizens. He and Theo break the tube open and release Fon-Rahm, a jinni created by the evil wizard Visiroth, whose journals we get to read as well. Visiroth also created Xaru, who is far more evil than Fon-Rahm, and who is on the loose as well. It is Xaru's mission to rule mankind with the help of a group of misguided humans called The Path, and Fon-Rahm would like to stop him. With the help of their friend Reese, and with the help of the archaeologist from whom they stole the jinni's lamps, Dr. Ellison, the cousins attempt to thwart the attempts of The Path and Xaru to take over the world. They succeed temporarily, but will Visiroth rise again?
Strengths: Lots of action and things blowing up, a coherent plot, and some travel thrown in. A few surprises along the way as well.
Weaknesses: I would rather have read more character development about Parker, but instead there is a lot of Visiroth. He's evil and his creation wants to take over the world-- I don't need to know his motivation as much. Parker doesn't seem to grow a lot, and that would have interested me more.
What I really think: There could be more evil jinn stories, so this is a good addition. Kerr's Children of the Lamp series, or Stroud's Bartimaeus series are a bit older, so it's nice to see something new.
Nicholson, Simon. The Demon Curse
May 7th 2015 by Oxford University Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
After the events of The Magician's Fire, Harry, Arthur, and Billie find themselves drugged, locked in a trunk and on their way to New Orleans in 1886, supposedly sent with the help of the Order of the White Crow and a man in a pale suit. Harry manages to escape, of course, and luckily Billie knows a group of people in New Orleans. However, her friends the Islanders are being attacked because they are blamed for the "demon curse" that has befallen Mayor Monticelso. The Islanders, who practive Vodou, but only in order to heal people, are besieged from all sides, by a variety of people who want their land, are bitter about their presence in the town, or who are just prejudiced against them. Pretending to be swamp children from Biloxi, the three manage to be invited into the Mayor's room, and see that he has indeed had some sort of stroke or other medical event that has rendered him incoherent. Harry manages to find a dumb waiter, and sneaks into the office to find some clues. Arthur buys a subscription to the New Orleans Public Library to do some research, and is struck by the same curse. Is it the creepy pickpockets causing this curse? Dr. Mincing? Madame Melrose? Oscar Supont? The man in the pale suit? The children eventually figure it out, securing their position within the Order of the White Crow.
Strengths: This had some good action and adventure, lots of escapes and tricks, and an engaging cast. The descriptions of New Orleans are decent, and there are evil villains in abundance.
Weaknesses: There were a fair amount of historically shaky descriptions-- there's a long scene with a telephone, which might have been able to happen, but phones would have been rare at this time, and probably would have merited more "oooh!". The public library, also, seemed a bit suspicious. At least Arthur does have to pay his way in, which would have been usual for this time. There were just a lot of things that didn't seem quite right to me, not that the target demographic would notice this.
What I really think: I'll stick with the Andrew Lane Young Sherlock Holmes series if my readers want an adventure mystery series set during this time period.