A summer camping trip takes an unexpected turn when a 14-year-old boy stumbles into a world of magic, witches, and an ancient curse in this fantasy adventure debut.
Matt’s family is used to his imagination getting him into trouble, but not even he could have dreamed up the dangers he would soon face. After convincing his parents to let him explore the campsite without his irritating, tag-along little brother, Ben, Matt finds himself following a strange doglike creature that stole his mother’s watch. A mysterious castle, a wish, a plane ride, and a short Olde English lesson later, the teenager finds himself transported to medieval Britain in the company of a group of friends who seem to recognize him as “Sir Matthew.” But this new identity comes with nightmarish news. Sir Matthew’s father, King Vincent, is on his deathbed with polio, and his younger brother, Isaiah, “is out to behead thee so that he will be next in line for the throne.” Matt must rely on these new friends to help him escape sinister Isaiah and return to the dying king’s bedside, only to be charged with a quest to face an evil magical being and break a generations-old curse. Subtract some expletives and the Olde English accents and Mennear’s story has the potential to turn into an enjoyable, plot-driven children’s fairy tale. The action doesn’t stop, even for characters who often fail to respond believably to life-threatening situations, as when Sir Matthew’s best friend, Jacob, takes a break from helping his pal run for his life to flirt with pretty maiden Tiffany. She promptly falls in love and agrees to accompany the duo on the dangerous journey. While Matt is not a particularly endearing character, he is a fully developed hero who grows by the story’s end by demonstrating some selfless courage. During his travails, he matures and feels more appreciation for his family and his little brother in particular. Still, the tale lacks the rich worldbuilding and narrative thrills that would make it compelling for a wide audience.
A bumpy time-traveling tale.