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Gr 7 Up-The wild 18th century Yorkshire coast frames a dark suspenseful tale rife with mythic and religious symbolism in the audio version of the novel by G. P. Taylor (Putnam, 2004). Much darker than the Harry Potter tales, shallower and more explicitly religious than Tolkien, and never relieved by humor or whimsy, the tale is exceptionally well read by Graeme Malcolm. He dramatically and distinctly voices every character, complete with believable dialects and accents, and brings the horrible supernatural creatures to life. Two children, Kate and Thomas, are caught up with a mysterious stranger from Africa named Raphah who has come to Whitby to confront the evil Rev. Demurral who, by devious means, acquired a powerful religious artifact previously in Raphah's keeping. Tone and pitch, pacing and delivery, all combine in Malcolm's reading to impart a sinister tone through the dialogue of these diverse characters. He adds a marvelous dimension to the story as well as bringing an occasional warm vocal note of comfort and encouragement that would be easy to miss in the reading. The story is absorbing in its desperate efforts to save the world from the clutches of evil Demurral who turns out to be less threatening than the furies he has unwittingly unleashed. Imbued throughout with Christian imagery by many different names, the story proceeds to a classic good vs. evil climax. Almost unrelieved in its urgency and fearful happenings, teens will enjoy the adventure and suspense and should not be put off by the gothic darkness or religious references.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

A deep voice that moves easily from whisper or hiss to loud rumble is at the heart of Malcolm's fine portrayal of evil vicar Obadiah Demurral, a megalomaniac intent on using magic and otherworldly powers (such as speaking to the dead) to take down God and rule the world. When he's not voicing Demurral, Malcolm employs a comfortably swift narration that sweeps readers away to the dark, craggy moors of 18th-century England-a setting whose creepy mood is emphasized by ominous strains of string music throughout. The requisite fantastic battle between good and evil ensues: young friends and orphans Tom and Kate join an African named Raphah to stop Deumurral's wicked mission. Taylor, a vicar himself who is making his writing debut, offers plenty of action, suspense and mystical creatures, all sure to hold appeal for fans of the fantasy genre-especially as performed in Malcolm's smooth and captivating style. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

If he can get his hands on a missing artifact, the evil vicar Obadiah Demurral is convinced that he can usurp God himself and rule the world. Rapha, a shipwrecked traveler who has journeyed from Africa to reclaim this artifact for his homeland, enlists the aid of young, homeless Thomas Barrick and his friend, the spirited Kate Coglan, to prevent Demurral from triumphing. Steeped in English folklore, Vicar Taylor's debut fantasy novel features heroes who must battle the thulak, invisible beings that fill people's minds with horrible nightmares for the rest of their lives, and choirs of seloth, flowing creatures whose piercing cries come out of the sea to take men to their deaths. There are obvious similarities to the Harry Potter books here, but this title is good enough to garner its own following and will appeal to Tolkien fans as well. Although aimed at young adult readers, it is complex enough to hold the interest of adults. Conservative Christians who are uncomfortable with Harry Potter may find this tale of good and evil more palatable. With a 250,000-copy first printing and a strong publicity campaign in the works, this British best seller will surely find an American audience. Highly recommended for all collections. [The author will appear on the Today show during the second week of May.Ed.] Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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