Advent by James Treadwell
For centuries it has been locked away
Lost beneath the sea
Warded from earth, air, water, fire, spirits, thought and sight.
But now magic is rising to the world once more.
Gavin has given up on the adults in his life, and they’ve given up on him. His father appears to hate him, his mother is scared of him, his teachers think maybe he should be in a different school. What he has is a gift – one he neither wants nor understands. At fifteen, his closest friend and confidante is the mysterious Miss Grey, although he has given up trying to talk to people about her as it only seems to upset them. Turned out of school, and not included in his parents’ holiday plans he catches a train to what may be his last haven; his aunt Gwen in Cornwall.
However, she is not there to meet him. Instead the weather is turning bad, and unnerving things are stirring.
Gavin is at that difficult age between childhood and being an adult. He is filled with uncertainty and he doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. When the reader is first introduced to him you aren’t given a great deal of detail about what is going on but as each new chapter unfolds a little bit more of a larger puzzle is revealed. There are secrets everywhere you look in Advent. Conversations occur and it is not until later on in the book that their relevance suddenly becomes clear. Gavin’s journey is a voyage of self-discovery as he uncovers the truth about his family and the secrets that have surrounded him since birth.
As the main narrative follows Gavin the reader only discovers information as Gavin discovers it. I did start to panic at one point that I just couldn’t get my head around what was going on but it turns out that I needn’t have worried. Once Gavin starts to find answers to his questions I very quickly had my own epiphany moment, at around page three hundred, everything just started to click and it all suddenly made a wonderful kind of sense. I’m glad that I persevered and I should stress that it is entirely worthwhile sticking with the story.
The other characters that the reader encounters are just as intriguing as Gavin. It seems that everyone that lives in this tiny little corner of Cornwall has his or her own secrets. There is the ‘nutty’ professor Hester Lightfoot who has left academia under a cloud, the Uren family who live at Pendurra itself and a whole cavalcade of other slightly odd types. I haven’t even mentioned the mysterious John Fiste, the greatest magus the world has ever seen.
The author has taken key elements from various mythologies and deftly woven them into his story. Arthurian legend, classic Greek myth and Celtic folklore are represented amongst others. It’s a strength of the narrative that these have all been blended together seamlessly to create a modern day fable.
The thing that really captured my imagination was the main location used in the novel. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited Cornwall in the past and Treadwell’s writing vividly captures the isolated house, Pendurra, where Gavin finds himself. It’s easy to believe that if magic was going to return it would be to somewhere so remote like this.
Acting as a preview to the next novel the final chapter moves the story away from Cornwall, to somewhere completely different, and offers some tantalising hints that the scope of this trilogy is going to get much larger when the sequel does arrive. Advent is a compelling debut that mixes fantasy with reality to create the first part of what promises to be an extraordinary tale. I’m already looking forward to reading the rest of it.
Advent is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is released on 2nd February 2012.