Title: The Purloined Boy
Author: Mortimus Clay
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Publisher: Finster Press
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: TLC Book Tours
First line: All the doors were locked, all the windows were latched, and everything was perfectly secure the night the bogeyman came.
The Purloined Boy is the first book in The Weirdling Cycle, a new fantasy series for older kids and teens. (I wasn’t quite sure what to classify it as: children’s or YA. The protagonist is 12 years old, and I plan to read it aloud to my four kids, ages 12, 11, 10, and 7.) This is an epic fantasy novel, set in a creepy and wonderful world, a world that has its own history and lore. I have read a lot of fantasy for kids, since I have four of them, and this is the first one that I can honestly say even begins to compare with The Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter.
Trevor Upjohn is a 12-year-old boy living in Superbia, in a hall with the other children. He has vague memories and dreams of a place called “home” and people called “parents,” but even those words are forbidden in Superbia. He also has nightmares of being snatched from a bed by an evil creature called a bogeyman. Trevor’s only friend is Maggie, another child who seems to remember a place before the Hall.
When Trevor is unable to control his urge to ask about “home,” he is taken in the night to the Inspector of Incorrigible Children. He is diagnosed as incorrigible and is taken to the Pantry for fattening up, and eventually, feeding to the bogeys. But Maggie and the slave Epictetus had told him this would happen, and had told him to listen for the small voice that would help him escape. When his help comes in the form of Zephyr, a small glowing mouse, Trevor must choose to trust him to lead him to freedom, and eventually, hopefully, home.
But first Trevor comes to know his temporary home with Maggie and her family, a wonderful place called Trothward. As Trevor settles in, he learns the history of Trothward, and the long-standing war between the evil Lucian, who controls the bogeys, and The Guild. Trevor and Maggie become players in a new battle in this war – and Trevor will have to find the courage to stand up to the things that scare him most.
I had a feeling that I was dealing with an author of wonderful creativity and humor when I read part of Mortimus Clay’s author bio:
While living, Mortimus Clay served as Professor of Arts and Letters at the Her Majesty’s Knitting College for Wayward Girls. After teaching Beowulf and The Faerie Queen to unappreciative knitters for 50 years in the backroom of a Manchester warehouse, Professor Clay died in 1885 a gray and wizened man.
It was the best thing that ever happened to him as his writing took an immediate turn for the better.
And with a blurb like this on the back…
“Splendid! Plato Meets Poe! Mortimus has outdone himself.” Charles Dickens in The Dead Author’s Review (5 stars)*
*It’s a joke. If you don’t get it, please don’t buy this book!
…it had to be good, right?
Well, it didn’t have to be, but it was. Professor Clay has definitely created a world that I will be happy to visit again and again. And I don’t plan to wait until April, when the second book comes out. I plan to revisit very soon, when I read The Purloined Boy aloud to my own kids. I know they will be creeped out by the bogeys and delighted by feisty Maggie. I know that they will shudder at the supremely evil Lucian, that they will want to warn Trevor when we trusts the wrong person, that they will cheer for Trevor as he finds the courage to stand up to the bully, Meno. I know they will be riveted during the final chapters – and then stunned to know that the story doesn’t quite end, and that they will have to wait awhile to find out what happens next. Just like I was.