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Martin J Day

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An expansive fantasy adventure

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-07-19

As with all good fantasy adventures, the story starts in the present day. Aiden is on his last day of school and, once released, he is straight off on a camping trip with just Dad and his younger brother Trystan. Aiden’s hope is to show Dad that he is adventure scout material and this proves to be his motivation for getting out of his comfort zone throughout the tale that follows. When with Dad there is much discussion of the outdoor life and bears. Then at night there is a transition into another world and both Aiden and Trystan are transported to a magical place populated by fairy’s, a menagerie of creatures, new friends and enemies and a familiar nemesis. The boys have a new status in this place with a quest to fulfil. The magical world has its own rules which we and Aiden discover. He and Trystan navigate their way as if through a computer adventure game passing tests and gaining unlikely, but import items along the way.

There is much here that is reminiscent of the Narnia stories. And what child doesn’t delight in the dream of an adventure where they are suddenly important and powerful, talk to animals and fairies and right a terrible wrong?

Victoria Schwimley’s story itself is expansive and pleasingly non-linear. It’s easy to get lost in this alternate world and Vicky Ring’s narration keeps the journey brisk. As a Brit I found her voice took a bit of getting used to and I wondered if a story about two boys might have been better suited to a male voice, but she manages well with the voices of the multiple characters that we meet and travel with.

As an adult reviewing a children’s story I think kids will love this audiobook provided they are able to give it their full attention. There are many twists and turns, problems and solutions, friends and enemies with their own back stories. I think it would be good for long car journeys or in bedtime instalments, but be warned the chapters have quite varying durations.

From ordinary family life to wild adventure & back

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-19

This is a story of how siblings Dylan & Emily take their annual trip to Granddad's quirky old house and slip into a magical, unsettling, but ultimately heroic adventure. The adventure itself, I thought, had elements of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, some Lord of the Rings style scrapes and some Alice in Wonderland magical absurdities.

I'm sure children will enjoy the magical adventure section. There is a breakneck pace to this part that help keeps the book manageably short. But as an adult I most enjoyed the skilful build up to the adventure - The family interactions of mum and dad's reassuring but preoccupied presence, the authentic sparring of the two siblings, and the imaginative eyes of Dylan that start to see the magical word that might be about to unfold before them. The setting in Grandfather's house nicely reflects another age that maybe go unnoticed by the children of today, but will be recognised by parents and grandparents of a certain age.

Philip Bartley's narration hits the right stresses of the different voices in the story and moves the tale along at a good pace.

Linda Jones has authored a really nice story that borrows ideas from some classic yarns but that moves quickly enough to old the attention of its intended audience. It sounds like there will be other adventures for Dyan and Emily to come and I like the idea of a series of stories that are on the shorter side.

I would say that Deadwood Hall will be great to listen with a parent, over a few bedtimes, or on a motorway car trip.