James Treadwell’s debut fantasy novel Advent is nothing short of magical.
It is a rich tapestry of light and dark which has been spun deftly thanks to some delicately intricate – yet, nonetheless accessible – prose that stimulates the senses magnificently and so begs the reader to learn more, whether aficionados of the genre or not.
For centuries it has been locked away, lost beneath the sea, warded from earth, air, water, fire, spirits, thought and sight. But now magic is rising to the world once more and a boy called Gavin, who thinks only that he is a city kid with parents who hate him, and knows only that he sees things no one else will believe, is boarding a train, alone, to Cornwall with no one there to meet him.
It is Treadwell’s grasp on making the innocuous phraseology so suddenly important that make this novel sparkle. Time and again, something seemingly mundane on the face of it becomes a hook onto which to hang the hat of an emerging plotline which, bodes well in itself, given that this is the first part of a trilogy. His characters, too – particularly Gavin – are beautifully drawn, so to not only make the reader want to know more but, also, make them feel as though they know them as old acquaintances – good and bad – already.
Yet, it is the very essence of the book – the places and creatures and sights and sounds that re so well described that really make this book the joy that it is. Pullman-esque, without the “in your face” pontificating; Rowling-esque, but with structure and style; Lewis-esque, but with pace and verve and vigour, Advent is certainly a novel that most will find difficult to put down once it has been picked up.