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MIDNIGHT FOR CHARLIE BONE by Jenny Nimmo

MIDNIGHT FOR CHARLIE BONE

By Jenny Nimmo

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-439-47429-9
Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Readers may come away from this hefty series opener, about a seemingly ordinary British lad who is sent to a special boarding school after discovering that he has magical powers, with a distinct sense of déjà vu. It seems that England had a magical Red King seven centuries ago, who disappeared after his wife died and five of his ten children went bad. All ten children are still around in various guises, and, along with occasional descendants, can wield parts of the Red King’s magic—so once ten-year-old Charlie reveals that he can hear the people in photographs talking, the nasty camp swoops down to bustle him off to Bloor’s Academy. Within Bloor’s gloomy stone walls he meets friends and enemies, some of whom are also “Endowed,” as he struggles to learn the school’s routines, helps rescue a kidnapped schoolmate whose mind has been clouded by the baddies, discovers that his father may not be dead as he’s been led to believe, and is stalked by a werewolf. The climactic battle, however, occurs offstage, and though several characters turn out not to be who or what they seem, the revelations are thoroughly telegraphed. The author leaves a few threads dangling, but underestimates her audience if she thinks she’s left any major surprises for future episodes. Charlie’s adventure adds up to a formulaic, thinly disguised placeholder for the next Harry Potter; a far cry from Nimmo’s eerie, atmospheric Griffin’s Castle (1997). (Fiction. 10-12)