Well I've decided: having read far too many reviews of this that simply pointed out the flat characterisation and the unoriginal nature of this book that it needs a bit of a lift from yours truly. So here is my attempt.
Now as I mentioned before (once upon a time) I love fairytales, mythology and legends. That is why I appreciated the magical sparkle of this book. Some might state that this book is unoriginal and flat however I personally found it to contain an original premise and interesting enough characters to drive the plot. Perhaps it would not stand up to scrutiny like some of the other books I have rated five stars in terms of depth. However I rate this as a five star novel due to the combination of incredible plot and the fact that an author has actually written a novel that appealed to me directly.
I did not find James A. Owen's work condescending, although others have differed in their opinion (I find that when it comes to this novel readers hold either a love-it or hate-it opinion). After all when you come to truly love a novel (as when you love a person) you readily ignore any obvious flaws. Failing to love however makes those flaws blatantly obvious. And if no one disagrees with you then there may be something wrong with you (for instance you could be a dictator ruling with an iron fist).
This novel may just, however, be one that appeals more to those life-long fans of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings and the other classics of that era. Someone noted that this work seems to be a collection of those classics and questioned how the characters would know their books would become classics. Of course the reviewer is valid in their questioning logic yet I respectfully disagree with their original starting point. This is not a book about the classics but rather is a book which hints at how those classics were given life. Which is a different thing from my perspective.
All the ideas in this work are perhaps why some state it is an unoriginal book. The plot follows three young friends as they are brought into the understanding of the existence of the Archipelago of Dreams. This is a land of fantasy linked to the real world and made up (as the name suggests - duh) of dreams and ideas. Here the mythological creatures, fairytales and legends exist. Such as King Arthur for instance. Also in this world exist the characters out of the books such as Captain Nemo (which is Owen's way of saying the authors were inspired by the characters in the Archipelago - which rather than being unimaginative I found rather clever).
It was interesting thinking about the plot just now. I believe that it would provide a very interesting case study in the idea of the mono-mythic story. You have the typical evil versus good with evil being defeated. Of course I believe (as the story suggests) that there is one narrative underlying all of society and life in which supernatural evil is defeated ultimately and all our stories spring from that. As such I have a love of the traditional epic fantasy styles and fairytale styles where good triumphs and the stories aren't focused on super gritty realism and too complicated plot threads.
If you like what I've said then give this book a chance. It's a little unknown book compared to some and it is nice to find a little gem that no one has heard of that you can recommend to other people and get them excited about. Much better than a super hyped up novel that does not deliver I believe.