March 09, 2007

Oxford in the Then and Now

Already primed for a studio release with Warner Bros., the mysterious, intriguing and very highly touted Endymion Spring opens on the scene of a dark night. A printer's devil is happily helping out the Master Printer, when the door opens, blowing in the night air and someone strange and frightening. Johann Fust comes to see Herr Gutenberg, whose only interest is to print a Bible in the finest fashion. Herr Fust believes he can help; promises Herr Gutenberg all the fame in the world, if he will go into partnership with him. Young Endymion, fearful for his master, is nonetheless fascinated by what Herr Fust and his boy, Peter, bring. It is a fearfully carved chest which is guarded by carved fanged snakes. The faces of devils and demons are intended to frighten thieves, but Endymion is intrigued... and then entangled in something he fears.

The scene shifts to the rarefied air of St. James College, Oxford, England where we encounter an unhappy boy named Blake, separated from his father by his parent's unhappiness, dragged along on his mother's sabbatical to Oxford. With only his little sister, Duck, for company, Blake finds that he has stumbled upon something deep and amazing. There are strange things afoot in Oxford... secretive book collectors, societies, confusing parents, dusty bookshops, and more.

The storyline of this past and present are intertwined, giving the reader hints and clues that lead to a tumultuous ending. However, characters are only shallowly explored, and myriad questions are left unanswered... is Psalmantzer also Endymion? What will Blake do with the book? Is the Person in Shadow going to be a constant danger?

From all of these, one can only assume that a sequel is in the works, hopefully one that answers the questions of why Blake could read the book and Duck could not, what is Duck's actual name, whether the name of the library cat had any significance, and why Endymion was specially chosen, and his past, etc. This may put off some readers, but if you love English countryside mystery series in which each volume may not be a stand-alone, this is one for you.

2 comments:

Jennifer Lynn Barnes said...

This one is sitting in my TBR pile, so I was really interested to see your review. Thanks for posting it!

Camille said...

My daughter just finished reading this book over spring break. She liked it very much. It is back on my TBR pile now. So many books...