This was read as a read for review via one of the several groups I co-moderate The Sci-Fi and Heroic Fantasy Group
. However simply because I know the author via Goodreads doesn't mean I'm going to be easy on his work, neither does it mean I'm going to set out to destroy his potential career like some reviewers. Instead I try and be fair in my reviews for books by authors I know through the site.The Last Sanctuary
is another modern fairytale with three girls being whisked away to a private college in London. I've not been to London but the author apparently grew up there so he knew what he was writing about. The school they find themselves in is a kind of wonderland with strange things going on and the potential to lead to other worlds of magic and fun. While not everything in the plot made full sense to me there was enough there to get where everything was headed and this was a fun book on the whole. I personally gave it the three stars because of how it finally settled in with me personally although for children around the reading ages of 9 - (I'd say a maximum of) 14 this would be a good novel to help them develop their vocabulary and imagination. As a young adult this didn't really grip me as much as other books in the same genre like The Chronicles of Narnia or Percy Jackson but that's personal taste as much as anything.
I did find the first half of the book a little shakier than the second. There were parts where things just seemed to happen without an explanation and that made the plot seem a little weak in places. The dialogue also seemed a little more stilted early on and I for one found the humour both a little overdone in places and below my type. The gags used seemed very specific to a developing child, particularly focusing on 'belches' and 'farts'. That said I think children would love this novel because it was designed for their interests. My interests now are perhaps in more sophisticated wit than seven years ago when I would have loved this book (and I'm not saying that this book is not sophisticated in any way, I merely mean that the humour was purposefully childish rather than aiming at adult wordplay). The second half, when plot points were resolved and the ideas I liked were used a lot more was much better than the first. The writing also didn't tend to jump suddenly as much then.
I still liked this book a fair amount. It was an enjoyable fairytale. But to like it more I would have to be a lot younger so I recommend it strongly for a younger readership. I think that if the author fixes the jumping around and writes like the second half continuously in the sequel it would appeal more to adults also.