Zyburo’s debut novel is a modern-day retelling of the Arthurian myth for a YA audience.
Miles Arthur is a scrappy foster kid who’s routinely used as a punching bag by his foster brother, Kay. Aside from that, though, his home life is about as close to paradise as it can get. He lives on a massive estate with a live-in maid and attends an exclusive private school. However, things start to change for Miles on the day of the state fair. He finally bests Kay in a fencing match; the girl he likes, Gwen, agrees to hang out with him; and he even wins a test-of-strength carnival game shaped like a sword in an anvil. Then things start to get weird: a crazy old man tells him that he’s Merlin, that Miles is King Arthur reincarnated, and that Gwen is Guinevere. He also informs Miles that unless he can find and retrieve the scabbard of the sword Excalibur within the next two weeks, Miles’ foster father will die. Miles must deal with this high-stakes quest on top of school, homework, skirmishes with his brother, and football practice while also trying not to embarrass himself in front of Gwen. Zyburo ably depicts the heightened reality of an overwhelmingly stressful young-adult life. The story also digs deeper into the Arthurian legend than many other derivative works do, which is commendable. However, it’s not a perfect melding; more often than not, the elements taken from the Arthur legend seem like stage dressing or a video-game skin. As a result, the feel of authentic Arthurian romance is frequently lost amid the background noise of the modern setting and contemporary teen dialogue. The quest element is fun, moves at a good pace, and keeps the plot churning, but it doesn’t quite make the story reach the heights of authentic Arthurian drama.
A somewhat gangly YA tale that has definite appeal but doesn’t fully grow into its heritage.