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Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles, Book 1

by Derek Benz & J.S. Lewis

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: June 7th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-316-04522-3
Publisher: Little, Brown

Aiming to be a steampunk action/adventure with a faerie element and a side of gaming, this opener of the second Grey Griffins series is a congested mess of overwritten prose, weak descriptions and inflated dangers. The four Griffins (three boys, plus one girl to ask questions, be prissy and get taken down a peg) are a monster-fighting team aided by magical and military adults. Technology and magic overflow, from Max’s transformable codex/ring/gauntlet-weapon to wireless cameras and long-distance imaging, laptops, clockworks, cogs, robotics and soul-stealing. A clockwork king from the past is kidnapping faerie changelings, potentially including one Griffin and one close friend, but weapons are too easily deployed and too quickly successful for battles and victories to resonate. Gadget and scene descriptions are slapdash, Arthurian references inexplicable. Perspective shifts lazily, and ornate substitutions for “said” are distracting and often inaccurate (“ ‘Cheer up,’ Todd noted”). Prose is purple (“She was thin, fitting into her clothes like a blade into a starched scabbard”) and redundant (“a round globe”). Sloppy all around. (Fantasy. 8-12)