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The hound of Rowan

by Henry H. Neff


Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780375838941]

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Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Max's life changes dramatically after a vision of a tapestry scene reveals itself to him at the Art Institute of Chicago. Following a terrifying encounter with a strange woman and a series of unusual tests, he finds himself enrolled at Rowan Academy, a semisecret and definitely Hogwarts-like school for children with abilities and experiences similar to his own. It is at Rowan that Max learns about the ancient struggle between those who watch over and nurture the world and those who want to control it. As an Apprentice, First Year, Max begins to hone his mysterious magical skills and shows a particular talent for amplifying his own physical capabilities, such as running and jumping. As the school year progresses, Max must face his destiny as a key player in the struggle against evil Astaroth. Overall, this is a solid and worthwhile beginning to a new fantasy series. The book lacks fully realized secondary characters and relationships, but as this is the first in the series, there is opportunity for development. And, of course, Astaroth's reemergence promises plenty of future conflict. Parallels to J. K. Rowling's work are inescapable, but Neff's tale certainly has potential and should help ease the suffering once Harry Potter withdrawal sets in. For general purchase, particularly where fantasy is popular.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 0375838945]

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From BookList, September 1, 2007, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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In a hidden alcove within Chicago's Art Institute, Max McDaniels discovers a faded tapestry. As he watches, the tapestry begins to glow; soon after, he receives an invitation to attend a private boarding school in New England. When he arrives at Rowan Academy, where young people with Potential are trained to fight an unnamed enemy, he and the other apprentices are housed in magically morphing rooms and assigned animal charges. Max is paired with the last lymrill in the world, a nocturnal creature with metallic quills. They train on the Course, where they experience different scenarios as they try to achieve a goal and move up levels as they progress. Meanwhile, apprentices and even some full-fledged agents are disappearing all over the world. This novel's sprawling, quirky boarding school has obvious parallels to Hogwarts, but Neff's storytelling boasts charms of its own, and U.S. readers may appreciate that this magical adventure, the first installment in the planned Tapestry series, takes place here rather than abroad. Tixier Herald, Diana.

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