Most helpful positive review
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A new title from a favorite author
on February 7, 2009
Happenstance Found is Book One in what I hope to be a great series.
Before I go on, I want to say that P. W. Cantanese is my favorite author of stores of fantasy and magical tales. I think that "A Mirror's Tale" is brilliant, and that "The Eye of the Warlock", and "The Riddle of the Gnome" are exciting and well crafted. I read all 5 of his books to my children (middle school aged - they loved each of these books too, but I have to admit that I always got caught reading ahead, having a hard time putting these books down. I don't understand why Cantanese is not a best selling author. His five "Further Tales" should be on every middle school's reading list. If I made movies - I would start here.
Now to the review, There are two main characters in the story. Happenstance, a boy who looks to be about 12, wakes in an underground ruins with no memory of any past, and a man named Umber who is brilliant, but seems to be manic - depressive; filled with exuberance most of the time, or smitten with a deep gloom.
The story starts well and then slows for much of the first half of this book. Even though there is vivid imagery, and strong characters, somehow the beginning of the story didn't hook me. The book seems to find a rhythm only about half way through. Sometimes authors spend the first part of a story doing the set-up, introducing characters and setting the stage so that when things get going - we are ready with a sufficient background for things to make sense. For example, Umber has a business partner that he almost cowers from as she is so demanding - but she is in only one scene of the story, and then does not reappear. Other characters are developed (i.e., the princes) - but then they seem to vanish from the plot. Certainly these characters will appear in latter other books, but they make the first part of this tale meander, and weaken the flow. About half way through the story picks up, and the mystery and the conflict come into focus.
I gave the book only a 4 star rating because of the slow beginning. I trust the story will continue to develop into the greatness of his other tales in the future Books of Umber. I am ready to begin reading Book 2 tomorrow - even though this First Book of Umber was only released a few weeks ago.