Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire by Paul Ramey

I don’t know about you, but I love young adult literature. And when I say love, I mean that I am obsessed with it. It might be the enjoyment of watching a young character grow up, or it might be that it gives me the freedom to relax and be fanciful in a way that adult fiction just doesn’t allow. Whatever the cause, YA heroes from Harry Potter to the Beaudelaire siblings have won my heart, and the hearts of readers everywhere. Now, joining the ranks of this illustrious tradition is Edgar Wilde, a young man whose passion for cemeteries and the mysteries surrounding local history land him in a whirlwind adventure and no small amount of danger.

Fans of series like Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Stoneheart will definitely enjoy following Edgar as he searches his hometown of St. Edmund, Massachusetts for clues to the whereabouts of a mysterious book of healing and spells—a grimoire that was passed down through generations and is being by turns sought and guarded by multiple parties. Edgar is a young cemetery enthusiast and amateur tour guide who, as he competes with other locals for the solution to the mystery, must also learn to navigate the treacheries of high school and the fierce competition he has for his historical tour business.

Paul Ramey does an admirable job of combining past and present; it melds then and now through alternating chapters, at once immersing readers in a Witch of Blackbird Pond-type history and at the same time plunging the story and its characters into the present, where the ghosts of past wrongs haunt the living, even after two hundred years. It is a race to the finish line to figure out what happened all those years ago, and to see if Edgar will be able to emerge victorious. There is magic here, not only in the grimoire itself, but in the storytelling. Though there are a few slight historical anachronisms, they in no way detract from the overall satisfaction of the tale, and the characters are so vivid and sympathetic that it is likely they won’t even be noticed. One caveat: There are a few instances of adult language, which are highly realistic for high school characters, but if you are a parent reading this to a kid younger than high school, you might read it out loud so you can skip those if you want. It is certainly not a reason not to read the book. This is a tightly-woven, enthralling novel that will please readers both young and old. I devoured this novel in two days, reading through meals and staying up late into the night with my itty bitty book light. If that isn’t the sign of a great read, I don’t know what is. Pick up Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire as soon as you are able. 

Paul Ramey is a writer, graphic artist, musician, and unrepentant cemetery buff. His most recent published works include a two-CD goth/rock musical album, Veil & Subdue, and Zen Salvador, a limited-edition book of zen-styled dog wisdom.  He has also had numerous tourism-related articles published in Courier, the official magazine of the National Tour Association. Originally from Frankfort, Kentucky, Paul now lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and child. This is his first novel.

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