Synopsis: Bran Hambric was found locked in a bank vault at six years old in the City of Dunce where Magic is outlawed, with no memory of his past. For years, he has lived with one of the bankers (whose family can only be described as ludicrously strange), wondering why he was left behind -- until one night, when he is fourteen, he is suddenly confronted by a maddened creature, speaking of Bran’s true past and trying to kidnap him.
Bran finds that he is at the center of a plot that started years before he was even born: the plot of a deadly curse his mother created…and one that her former masters are hunting for him to complete. Haunted by the spirit of his mother’s master and living in a city where magic is illegal, Bran must undo the crimes of his past...before it is too late.
Who could possibly have put a six-year-old into a locked bank vault if not mages or gnomes? The answer is larger than Bran. In fact, it is larger than Dunce. It just might be larger than magic itself. It might be about as big as the universe. And Bran is the key. But what’s the lock?
When I first heard Kaleb Nation's Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse being touted as the replacement Harry Potter, I was immediately intrigued. Ever since the Harry Potter series was over, there's been a vacuum that I'm sure every fan has felt. I've read some other books that promised to fill this hole, but none have reached those heights.
I have mixed feelings about this book. If I hadn't read Harry Potter, I'd have loved this story. But since I have, I can only say I liked this book. Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse is at once different and similar to Harry Potter. Similarity comes in the form of the lead character Bran Hambric who's an orphan living with folks who treat him like a servant, whose Mom died trying to save him, who's ignorant of his own magical prowess, and who, among other things, has a nemesis like Lord Voldemort who's out to destroy him. The difference comes in the background of the story; the reason why Bran's in danger, the strange City of Dunce where Magic is outlawed, how Bran copes with it etc.
However, there were some very good points to this book as well. The writing is engaging, the cryptic unfolding of the story keeps the reader hooked and the conception of the City of Dunce and it's various residents with their peculiar prejudices, behaviors, laws etc are humorous, entertaining and interesting. The one very interesting aspect of this novel is that of Magical Crime and the author does a good job of exploring that. The world of Bran Hambric is one that closely resembles ours and yet is quite different, in a wonderful, magical sort of way. I also liked how the story is developed in a way to engage the younger readers fully while providing them with plenty of moral dilemmas and provoking them to think, to engage and decide for themselves.
Overall, I liked this book while not quite loving it. But I am hooked enough to look forward to reading the next installment in this series. It's worth introducing this series to any young reader who may still be mourning Harry's loss!
One other point worth mentioning is that this story was conceived when the author was a mere 14 years old. He's now almost 21 years old and already a phenomena in the virtual world. You can read more about him at www.kalebnation.com
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