Title: Scourge: A Grim Doyle Adventure
Author: David H. Burton
Page Count: 2809 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: Stonehenge Press
Genre: young adult, steampunk
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review
Synopsis: Two dads, five siblings, and goggles!
Grim Doyle has always known his life was not exactly "normal", and things get even more curious when he discovers a set of stones that sweep him and his family to the fantasy, steampunk world of Verne - a place they had escaped from years ago. Now that they've returned, Grim and his siblings hide from the evil Lord Victor and his minions. And while learning about Jinns, Mystics, and the power of absinth they try to discover who is trying to kill them with the deadly Scourge.
Here's a great middle grade offering, and a steampunk adventure tale to boot! This is a story with something to offer everyone- intrigue, technology, drama, family issues and squabbles, comedy, the list goes on and on.
Grim's life isn't normal, by his measurement- he has two dads, a somewhat tyrannical aunt (that's ahhhhhnt, not ant like the bug, and don't you forget it), many adopted siblings, and lives, in his estimation, in the middle of a three-ring circus. Things become even more wild when Grim finds out that all the family members are actually refugees from Verne, a parallel world to Earth, and that they are on the run from the evil Lord Victor, who usurped their estate.
There's plenty of adventure and mayhem to satisfy readers who enjoy a good adventure story, with interesting observations from a child's point of view scattered throughout the story. There are events and concepts that everyone has to grasp and work through sooner or later, as well. Sibling rivalry, especially between Grim and his older adopted sister, Rudy, is addressed throughout the book in some detail.
The pace keeps going when all of the children find themselves guests of a mysterious orphanage, and, as part of their keep, they get to do chores and study under the orphanage's mysterious staff. Since this is a parallel world, there are creatures here that Grim had only read about prior, and the whole thing becomes an adventure very quickly, as it should. Not always a fun adventure, certainly, but an adventure nonetheless. Add in the Scourge and the surrounding mysteries and you've got plenty to sink your teeth into as a reader.
Issues of gender and gender roles are brought up here as well, as well as issues of social class, privilege and entitlement and all kinds of other knotty issues that become things we have to deal with and determine our stance on as we grow up; reliving that transitional period was interesting to say the least.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was that new vocabulary relating to the fantasy elements was liberally used, but in a way that young readers would be able to figure out the word meanings and usages without it bogging down the text. The flow of the story is great and there are plenty of explanations of the gadgets, magic concepts, and history of the world of Verne so that younger readers won't get frustrated while reading they way they might with other books of this ilk.
We leave Grim and his family at the end of the book with plenty to contemplate and enemies regrouping all around. I'm definitely interested in reading what happens to them next.
Thanks to David Burton I have two PERSONALIZED copies of Scourge to give away during the carnival! Personalized means that the winner's name will be incorporated into the story as a character's name! To enter, simply fill out the form below. After that, head on over and comment on this post saying you entered the Scourge giveaway for an added chance to win the $25 Amazon gift card!
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