The Explorers of Serdame, Phoenix Williams

The Explorers of Serdame, Phoenix Williams

The Explorers of Serdame: The Alfred Arnold Saga Book 2

The Explorers of Serdame is a humorous fiction story, with a writing style and a theme that would make it suitable for younger audiences. Sadly, we reviewers at By Rite of Word have almost no sense of humour, making submitting a comedy for our review a very digital experience. What do I mean by that? Basically, that it’ll either hit that vanishingly small target of our sense of humour, and we’ll love it, rave about it, and tell all our friends, or, far more likely, we’ll dutifully read it with a small cloud of doom over our heads and set it aside with unbecoming haste at the end.

I’m sorry to say that this story fell into the latter category for me. The plot didn’t capture my interest, being relatively slow-paced and on the whole geared for a younger audience, and the amount of explanation in the narrative slowed it even further. There are a number of references in the story that are never really wound up, such as the mysterious wall that may be around all or part of Serdame, which shows up in the first few pages, and then never surfaces again.

I also didn’t really take to the characters. Given the amount of explanation of their whys and wherefores in the book, it’s possible that they came across as less well-developed than they actually were, but from the gallant knight who wears his armour everywhere to the woman with them who invariably arranges the food, injures her foot on journeys and has to be carried, etc., they didn’t draw me in.

Overall, while I feel that this book could be a great hit for family reading evenings, it wasn’t a read I enjoyed.

The Explorers of Serdame cover

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Wondrous, Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous, Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous: A Novel by Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous is the story of Miles, a nine-year-old boy thrown across a rift between worlds to a place where several species are in the middle of a war. Magically transplanted, Miles slowly develops a number of magical skills, increasingly making him a weapon against the danger dividing the kingdoms.

While I feel that this book could make a worthwhile novel for younger readers, as it tells the story from the point of a small child whose parents are in the midst of a divorce and interweaves scenes of the family divorce as the basis of Miles’s burgeoning magical skills, I didn’t find that it pulled me in.

Although the range of species was impressively varied, they were all, at heart, good old guys willing to spend more or less endless time and resources looking after a somewhat spoiled nine-year-old while in the middle of a war. I didn’t find that beyond the scene-setting, there was any exploration of differences between the species. In addition, the frog-like Rompun species spoke bad French, and unfortunately my sense of humour is a very small verging on non-existent target to hit, so this didn’t really do much for me. The final nail in the coffin for me in terms of plausibility was that at least two of the main players walked away from certain death to come back and provide vital support for our young protagonist. If this book was designed for a very young audience, I can see why that decision might have been made, but the implausibilities made the story impossible for me to get into.