From the BLURB:
Finmere Tingewick Smith was abandoned on the steps of the Old Bailey. Under the guardianship of the austere Judge Harlequin Brown and the elderly gentlemen of Orrery House, Fin has grown up under a very strange set of rules. He spends alternate years at two very different schools and now he's tired of the constant lies to even his best friends, to hide the insanity of his double life. Neither would believe the truth!But on his sixteenth birthday, everything changes. The Judge is killed, stabbed in the chest with a double-edged sword that's disturbingly familiar, and from that moment on, Fin is catapulted into an extraordinary adventure. Through the Doorway in Fin's London, a hole in the boundaries of Existence, lies another London - and now both are in grave danger. For the Knights of Nowhere have kidnapped the Storyholder, the keeper of the Five Eternal Stories which weave the worlds together.
‘The Double-Edged Sword’ is the first book in Sarah Silverwood’s Young Adult series, ‘The Nowhere Chronicles’.
Our hero is Finmere Tingewick Smith. Or ‘Fin’ as he is to be known. Fin has an interesting story to go with his interesting name. Abandoned on the steps of London’s Old Bailey, he was a baby wrapped in a blanket and with nothing but a man’s ring for identification. Fin was taken in and raised by Judge Brown, and mysteriously schooled at two very different institutions. . . one school in London as we know it, and the other school in ‘Somewhere’ London, in the world of Nowhere. When Judge Brown is murdered Fin’s duality throws him into danger and chaos. . . when the Knights of Nowhere, led by St John Golden, try to take control of all parallel worlds Fin must choose where to take a stand.
“Oh, I know you, Finmere, even if we haven’t met before. As for this room. . . well, I’m not entirely sure it is here. Some rooms are like time. Funny places.” He wheeled himself a little closer. “It’s your birthday, isn’t it? How old are you now?”Sarah Silverwood is actually the penname of Sarah Pinborough, who also writes ‘The Dog-Faced Gods’ trilogy of post financial-apocalyptic crime fiction. I really enjoyed first book, ‘A Matter of Blood’, so I was intrigued to read Pinborough writing YA as Silverwood. And I wasn’t disappointed. . .
The man in the chair grinned and leaned backwards, folding his hands. A black and gold ring glittered on his finger. He let out a little chuckle, then sighed. “Sixteen, eh? That’s an interesting age for you. It’s almost like you’re stuck between two worlds.” He laughed softly as if at a private joke and shuffled beneath his blanket. A flash of metal was quickly hidden beneath the wool, but not before Fin had seen it. What was that? It looked like the hilt of a sword, but surely it couldn’t be?
‘The Double-Edged Sword’ is Young Adult Urban Fantasy. And when I say ‘urban fantasy’ I mean the book is luxuriating in UF conventions. The book is a wonderful blend and balance of fantasy and city, set in London. . . or at least, a parallel ‘Nowhere’ version of the London we know. Silverwood’s London is a place of fantastical steampunk proportions, an amalgamation of magic and era that blends into a wonderful character unto itself. The ‘Nowhere’ concept reminded me of Ilona Andrews’s ‘The Edge’ for the warped city reality and is a wonderful backdrop for the epic battles that takes place within its realm.
Fin is the stand-out character. I love it when YA authors write young heroic characters – when they let their characters wade into danger, stand up for themselves and prove their worth. Silverwood has written such a character in Fin. Expect to be wowed by his swordplay, stiff upper lip and charisma. He is sixteen, but you must remember that YA readers read ‘up’ so sometimes he comes across a little younger. Regardless, he’s a fine protagonist to go on this (long) journey with. I look forward to following his adventures in upcoming books.
The bad-guy fell a bit short. St John Golden is a dark Knight who is determined to take control of all parallel worlds. He’s a bit of a cardboard cut-out villain – but even though he was a little obvious, he was still fun to read and despise. And his being polar-opposite to Fin made for fun good vs. evil power-playing.
"Let's settle this like the honourable Knights that we used to be. Let these boys go and I'll meet you in St Paul's and we'll duel."There is a cliff-hanger ending. . . there has to be, since this is the first of (at least) three books. Not to give anything away. . . but the ending isn’t so frustrating that *nothing* is resolved, nor is it so neatly wrapped that you’re not left salivating for the next instalment. Silverwood writes a nice balance, at once satiating reader’s curiosity while also piquing it.
St John laughed. "St Paul's? What, the Whispering Chamber? You are such a romantic."
"Not St Paul's in the Somewhere. Here."
Next book is ‘The Traitor’s Gate’ and is due for an April 2011 release and I will definitely be reading it.