I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
I am always on the lookout for good children's books and I am pretty picky when selecting one. I was intrigued by Brodien-Jones' new book, THE OWL KEEPER, because I happen to think owls are just about one of the most wonderful creatures you can find on this planet. Maxwell Unger, the hero of the book, is also a fan of owls. Because of a rare condition, Max is unable to go outside during the day . He often manages to slip out at night in order to explore and during one of his midnight forays he encounters a silver owl. Silver owls are thought to be extinct. Max appoints himself the protector of this rare owl.
Max and the rest of the world live under the control of the High Echelon. The High Echelon appears to be a corporate entity that took over when the world started falling apart due to pollution and other calamities. The High Echelon controls everything including the flow of information. When visiting his owl one night, Max discovers a young girl named Rose. Rose and her father appear to be on the run from the High Echelon and she reveals truths about that sinister entity that make Max begin to question everything he knows. Max's late grandmother used to tell him tales about the time before the High Echelon when the silver owls and sages were united against the powers of the dark. As truths come to light, Max and Rose must make an incredible journey to discover if the old tales about the Owl Keeper and the silver owls were really true. These tales may hold the key to a new future.
This book combines elements of a postapocalyptic world with a world of magic. There are sinister people who may not be what they seem, fantastical creatures, dark experiments and children with untapped potential. It is a coming-of-age tale but also a quest story. I really liked the fact that Brodien-Jones gives us two strong positive characters in the form of Max and Rose that can appeal to both boys and girls.Their quest isn't possible without the talents of BOTH children. It is a story of finding hidden truths about oneself and fulfilling one's destiny. There is plenty of action to go along with the mysteries and prophecies to make this a very entertaining read.
PARENTAL ADVISORY: The villians are quite sinister and may be a little frightening for younger readers. (think Roald Dahl and the later Harry Potter books) Also, there is a creature called a Skraek that sounds really scary. The children are often physically threatened and one is even experimented upon. However, I don't think most children over 12 will have much of a problem with the book.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. Brodien-Jones will be coming out with a sequel to this book and I'm really looking forward to it. I believe the series has a lot to offer. I appreciate the fact that although the books is open-ended enough to leave room for the sequel, it can still stand alone.