Book: Advent


By James Treadwell

(464 pages, fantasy)

Magic is rising.

James Treadwell’s debut novel introduces bygone magic and arcane knowledge to a modern-day England. Gavin Stokes, the protagonist, has a secret. In all of his fifteen years, a mysterious woman whom he calls Mrs. Grey has accompanied him throughout life. His parents are upset to learn that Gavin still believes in his “imaginary friend” into his teenage years. Gavin, however, is sure that she is real. When sent away to visit his Aunt Gwen at the unusual Pendurra estate, Gavin quickly realizes that not only were his suspicions of Mrs. Grey correct, but magic itself is slowly returning to the world.

The majority of this book is split into two timelines, one set in the current day, and the other in sixteenth-century Europe. Treadwell explores the life of Johannes Faust, an adept mage, in these passages. Johannes’ unfortunate choices in the 1500s will prove to have dire consequences for Gavin in the current day. The story features a few familiar mythical creatures and individuals as the magical world wakes and rises from the past. Treadwell does an excellent job of giving you just enough information make you suspicious of some characters’ true identities. I appreciated Treadwell’s approach to myth and magic in Advent. This is not a world of saccharine spells and witches on brooms. This is a more grounded magic, rife with lesser demons and dangerous bonds. There are serious consequences for those who seek forgotten knowledge to wield its power.

If you’re expecting high fantasy full of epic adventures and wizards battling at every turn then this story may not be for you. Admittedly, the pacing of Treadwell’s narrative can a bit slow, although I didn’t find it to be laborious. The first half of the novel advances slowly as Gavin begins to realize what is happening around him. Once some major conflicts are introduced, though, it was hard for me to put the book down. I don’t mind a novel that takes its time, and I really enjoyed vicariously exploring Gavin’s world throughout the entirety of the book.

Advent may feel very familiar to those who enjoy fantasy. It’s part Harry Potter, part Sabriel, with a little bit of The Golem and Jinni sprinkled in. In any case, it’s a book that gave me that warm, cozy feeling so many of us enjoy in fantasy. It’s a feeling that allows us to believe, however briefly, that perhaps there is a mystic, remarkable world out there just waiting to be awakened.

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Shane Phillips

Author: Insider Staff

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