Way back in the year 2001, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had just come out. The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, had come out a year earlier, and fans wouldn’t get to read the sequel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, until 2003. In the midst of this long wait, fans turned to any novels they could find that gave them a spark of magic while they waited. One of the book series I turned to was Jenny Nimmo’s Charlie Bone books.
Beginning with Midnight for Charlie Bone and continuing for seven more installments (Charlie had eight adventures before it was cool), the series tracks the adventures of the eponymous Charlie Bone, who is forced to attend Bloor’s Academy after it is discovered he can hear voices talking in photographs. As it turns out, Charlie is one of several children at Bloor’s endowed with special gifts, all of them descended from the mysterious Red King and his ten children. In ancient times, the Red King abandoned his children while grieving for his dead wife, and five of them turned wicked, warring with their more virtuous siblings. In the years since, his descendants have continued to feud, and it’s not long before Charlie is caught up in their machinations.
Pretty great set up, right? I think so, too. Reading this series as a kid, I loved the way I could imagine that Charlie’s world was my own. As much as I love Hogwarts, there was always a very clear line between that world and the one I lived in. Charlie goes home on the weekends, plays the trumpet (albeit poorly), and spends a lot of time with his next door neighbor – all things that could happen in my life, too. All that magic stuff is just the icing on top.
Coming back to read the series as an adult, I can see certain features some readers might find off-putting. What will turn most older readers away is the series’ simplicity. The plots aren’t particularly complicated, and you can often predict the way events will turn out long before the end of the book. Unlike Harry, nothing too terrible ever sticks in Charlie’s world. But what stood out to me more was how much there is to treasure in these books: they’re easy to read, fun, and filled with wonder. I’d definitely recommend these books if you have any young fantasy readers in your life, and they can be entertaining for older readers as well (although you may want to space them out a bit rather than read all eight in a row!).
In exciting news, Charlie Bone’s publisher, Egmont UK, has just release a fabulous new set of covers for these titles. Check them out:
And what’s even better than that is, thanks to the generosity of Egmont, you can win a set of your very own! Please note that this contest is open only to residents of the UK and Ireland and will run October 19–October 31. So what are you waiting for? Enter now!
The Charlie Bone series was provided by the publisher for review.