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A strong contender for Harry Potter's crown

The Invisible Order, Book One: Rise of the Darklings
The Invisible Order, Book One: Rise of the Darklings
By Paul Crilley

Egmont: 2010

To learn more about this book, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

A Victorian take on the sort of magical fantasy that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series so successfully defined, Paul Crilley's first entry in his new Invisible Order series isn't as detailed as Rowling's books, but contains much of the same charming combination of danger, adventure and friendship.

Twelve-year-old Emily and her younger brother William have been orphaned since first their father, and then mother, failed to return home from work in 1800s England. Now they live in a London flophouse, and eke out a living doing whatever odd jobs they can find a merchant or tradesman to pay them for.

On her way to work at a produce stall, Emily comes across a pitched battle between ... well, she isn't sure, only that they're not human. The fact that she was able to witness what humans shouldn't be able to see ends up with her being dragged into an ongoing war between two camps of the fairy folk.

The problem is (well, beyond the fact that a young girl is being dragged into a war ...) that Emily is faced with two different groups each claiming to represent the forces of good and their opponent the forces of evil. As an outsider, she has little on which to base her decision on who really is good.

Crilley does a nice job in fleshing out Emily and the other main characters, with her budding romantic admirer, a local thief-boy named Jack, a particular delight.

As the first novel in the trilogy, "Rise of the Darklings" does a nice job of setting up the obviously pending conflict in the books to come. It does have a bit of an incomplete feel to it at the end, and so is not truly a freestanding tale on its own. But for that matter, so did "The Fellowship of the Ring" and any of the Harry Potter books.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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