From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—Eoin Colfer turns his special brand of humor and adventure to detailing the amazing life and times of young Conor Broekhart—born in a hot air balloon over Paris and thereafter destined to use his fascination with flight to save his parents, recapture a kingdom, and win the hand of a princess. John Keating's boyish voice and slight Scottish accent give this swashbuckling adventure story (Hyperion, 2008) just the right combination of realism and fantasy. His narrative skill captures the personalities of both main and supporting characters—from the consummate cold-hearted villain Marshall Hugo Bonvilain to the dashing and cavalier Victor Vigny. Older listeners will relish this entertaining coming-of-age story whose themes of friendship and betrayal, love and hate, and courage and fear play out amidst breathless scenes of action and violence. Somewhere between the old Errol Flynn movies and The Princess Bride
, this camp, contrived, and complex mix of eccentric characters and fantastical situations provides an immensely satisfying listen.—Cindy Lombardo, Cleveland Public Library, OH
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Author of the popular Artemis Fowl series, Colfer ventures into slightly different territory in this fantasy, which has the heft of historical fiction; a subset of characters whose physical attributes reflect their evil natures; dry humor; visceral horror; and swashbuckling action that keeps the story from becoming overly dark. Born in the basket of an air balloon, Conor Broekhart is sure he is destined to fly. But at 14, he accidentally witnesses the murder of his tutor and the sovereign of the tiny Saltee Islands where he lives, and everything changes.Villainous Marshall Bonvilain throws him into prison, convincing him that his family believes him guilty of the crime. Thus begins his new life as inmate Conor “Finn,” who devotes his considerable abilities to breaking out of prison. Colfer grapples somewhat awkwardly with a few literary issues here: should he, for example, allow his hero to commit murder? There are also huge time gaps that are distracting and occasionally stall momentum. Readers may not notice, however, with so much else going for the book. Grades 10-12. --Stephanie Zvirin