“Marcel woke the next morning in a forest shrouded in the silver robes of a fine mist. Others might have said it was beautiful the way the wisps of fog clung to the trees. Their eyes might have picked out the moss and lichen that spotted the beech trees so delicately and the thick mats of ferns, their fronds perfectly still and dripping with dew. But the beauty of the forest left Marcel unmoved.. All he could think of was the grueling day ahead.”
“The Book of Lies” by James Moloney
The Book of Lies is one of those many random books that I can’t even remember how I managed to get, because I sometimes have such a purchasing problem that I’ll buy books, put them in a stack, and then forget I even got them. In trying to dig through some of these random texts, I came across this children’s fantasy novel by James Moloney, and it was a pleasant surprise. For one thing, I blew right through it, which is impressive for someone who pants along with books just as much as she does with her plots, and even more, the story was pretty simple, but it still managed to catch me by minor, pleasant surprise here and there. It’s a charming story, probably a great one to read to children, but also interesting enough to captivate adults as well. The magic to enchant its reader in The Book of Lies isn’t quite so powerful as, say, Harry Potter, but the allure is definitely there.
In this book, we meet a young boy named Marcel, who is mysteriously whisked away to an orphanage, where an enigmatic old wizard with a terrible beast and a powerful enchanted book attempt to erase his memory and supplant new ones into his brain. The process is interrupted by another orphan, and they set off to understand exactly who Marcel is and why it was so important to make sure he forgot it. As these things tend to happen, he opens up an exciting world about a poisoned queen, a usurped throne, and a powerful spell involving a terrible dragon that will destroy the world. It’s a fairly common set-up, I feel, though there were a few delightful turns in the plot here and there, and I rather enjoyed it, though it didn’t feel like anything spectacular. The writing at times was a little simple, but it’s a kid’s book, so that made me really appreciate the points where Moloney really turned up the prose. Actually, the writing made me think an awful lot of some of my own work, especially in Soulless, though Soulless is definitely not for kids.
Sometimes, I felt as though the plot had to wrangle itself into place a little too much, and sometimes the details didn’t really seem to “fit” as well as I would like. There’s a point (possible spoiler alert?) where two other characters discover that they, too, have had their memories erased, but, when they discover their true identities, they kept on going by the same old orphan names while embracing the new life they discovered. For some reason, that bugged the heck out of me. I mean, okay, you spend years going by one name, it would probably feel weird to suddenly go by another one, but at least make an effort, right?
All in all, it was a good, fast read, a nice little jaunt into the imagination for a younger reader or a reader still young at heart. I’m thinking of getting a copy for my nephew; I think he might really enjoy it. Though he might enjoy it more if there were monster trucks…
Books read: 010/100.