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The Curse of Arkady
by Emily Drake
Here is Book Two in a series that could be billed as, If Harry Potter were an American. What a difference that would make! Instead of an underfed, mistreated, Quidditch-playing orphan named Harry Potter, he would be a bullied, soccer-playing boy named Jason Adrian whose step-stepfather is rather nice, and whose stepmother worries about him so much that it causes problems. Instead of owls, he and his friends from the past summers Magicker summer camp keep in touch over the internet. And instead of a safe (???) boarding school where young wizards and witches can study magic together, they attend their own separate schools and the school of life, while a mysterious curse and a deadly enemy seek to take advantage of their lack of training.
Welcome to the continuing adventures of Jason and his crew of raw, inexperienced young Magickers. In this installment, Jasons bad dreams continue, dreams that he shares with the Dark Lord Brennard. As Brennard awakens, gathers followers, and sets plans in motion, the Magickers have returned to their homes for a new school year with very little protection; and even that is soon nullified by the Dark Hand and its vile creatures. The Wolfjackals grow bolder every day, trying to attack Jason and his friends; the school guidance counselor from hell is messing around with Jasons life; and when the step-stepdad drives Jason over to see his latest construction project, it turns out to be the mansion from his recurring nightmares.
Meanwhile, the young Magickers have many problems of their own to deal with. Jasons friendships and family ties are tested by the secret he is magically bound to keep. Ting, on the other hand, learns that her family already knows her secret, particularly her Grandmother, who has cancer. Rich and his shape-changing pal Stefan find themselves in hot water when the beast within decides to go to the homecoming game. Bailey learns how to see through the eyes of her packrat-companion. Trent remains the only Magicker without any powers and only Jason knows about it. And poor old Henry Squibb, who lost his powers and his memory in the Magickers, is starting to get them back just when nothing could be more dangerous!
There is plenty going on in The Curse of Arkady. Maybe too much. Compared toHarry Potter, it is not as tightly structured, as smoothly written, or as faithful to a single point of view. At times, I had to read a bit two or three times to make sure I understood it right. Most irritating are the occasions when you dont know which character is talking, or when you think you know whos talking but you find out (at the end of a very long quote) that it was somebody else. Its the sort of thing that could mean youre not reading very well, or it could mean that somebody isnt writing very well and since I dont usually have this problem…
So, on the level of pure love of good writing, this book and series are not as satisfying as Harry Potter. However, on the level of an interesting story that shows promise as a Harry Potter alternative, you may find it very satisfying indeed. If you like this book, look for the third book in the series, The Dragon Guard.