Book Review: Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith by Shaun Hume

Book Reviews copy

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Goodreads Synopsis: Ewan Pendle was weird. Really weird. At least, that’s what everyone told him. Then again, being able to see monsters that no one else could wasn’t exactly normal …

Thinking he has been moved off to live with his eleventh foster family, Ewan is instead told he is a Lenitnes, one of an ancient race of peoples who can alone see the real ‘Creatures’ which inhabit the earth.

He is taken in by Enola, the mysterious sword carrying Grand Master of Firedrake Lyceum, a labyrinth of halls and rooms in the middle of London where other children, just like Ewan, go to learn the ways of the Creatures.

Author: Shaun Hume

Title: Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Date: 2013

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Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith is compared to Harry Potter in all of the testimonials. I even read a review where the reader felt she was missing a trick because she wasn’t a Harry Potter fan.

Every fantasy story with a young protagonist who goes to a school to learn about their new gifts can be compared to Harry Potter, including novels such as Dragon Trials by Ava Richardson, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell and even, to some extent, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (just with an older intended audience).

Let the book speak for itself! It helps avoid misconceptions and presumptions! I do not understand how this reader felt she was losing out because she hadn’t read another series: surely this book can win or lose readers on its own?

Ewan tried unconvincingly to look unconvinced, losing his appetite altogether and instead found himself able to do nothing else but gaze around the hall, from time to time looking back across the table at Mathilde to gauge her progress.

The plot does revolve around a young boy, Ewan Pendle, who discovers he is not crazy, that the Creatures he sees really do exist and there are others like him. Furthermore, his parents (presumed dead), were also members of this elite group.

Finding friends and enemies alike, discovering his strengths and weaknesses, Ewan must survive his first year and see if he has what it takes. As a character, Ewan develops through the novel, learning to trust his instincts and, ultimately, make the right choices that help save the day.

Mathilde and Enid, Ewan’s two friends, have the potential for a lot more development. Enid is introduced by winning a fight against older boys, but you never see her fighting skills again. I was distracted by Mathilde by her use of “dude” in almost every line. Especially considering this is set in England and “dude” is an American-term, it became highly irritating.

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I expected Ewan to be introduced to more of the Creatures during his studies, as that is what opened his eyes to this world in the first place. But they are barely mentioned again and numerous (too many) lessons are described about other aspects of his training. It made it hard to keep up with who taught what and what skills he was learning.

The same thing occurred with the White Wraith. It is meant to be this terrifying phenomenon that no one can survive. But despite the unsettling appearance of the Wraith, it does nothing but hover on the two occasions it turns up. Ewan even approaches it and nothing happens. But neither is this explained – we don’t know if Ewan has a gift, or the wraith just isn’t explored fully.

I think I would have enjoyed this novel more if I was younger. I would have been swept up in the mystery and magic of it more.

As it was, however, I felt there were too many plot-strands introduced that were never developed, Ewan’s lack of trust (even of Mathilde) made it hard to connect to characters and there were some descriptions/analogies that were so long I missed their point. There was also strong repetition throughout: Enid’s “liquid black eyes” made a lot of appearances!

A novel with potential for younger readers.

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