Celes Vale has lived an ordinary life with his close knit family in working class Midgardian. That is, until his twelfth birthday. On that day his magic is awakened and shortly thereafter he is sent to a magical school in the floating city of Gardarel where he will be trained as an Invoker. It’s soon apparent though that there is a nefarious plot underway. One that could destroy Gardarel itself. Can Celes and his friends stop the villains before it’s too late?
I’m going to get the negatives out of the way. Yes, there are parts of The Kingdom Lights that are similar to Harry Potter. One of the opening scenes took me right back to when Dumbledore dropped Harry off at the Dursleys. And yes there are extreme similarities in regard to the characters. In addition to Celes, Zephyr, and Imogene being somewhat like Harry, Ron, and Hermione, there’s a Draco clone with two henchmen that are a little too close to Crabbe and Goyle. I also felt there wasn’t quite enough world building. For instance, I would have liked to have known more about the origins of the prejudice towards the Wisps. Finally, there was some repetetive phrasing that got on my nerves. Too many instances of “the young Vale” for example. Despite this, I actually wound up liking the book. Steven VS has created a lovely children’s book that is a combination of Steampunk, Fantasy, and a little Science Fiction. Indeed, with his gorgeous descriptions of Gardarel and all it’s wonders, it brought to mind The Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. For all the similarities in the characters to those in Harry Potter, there was also a uniqueness to them. I genuinely grew to care about Celes and I loved the difficult relationship between him and his cousin Sam. I also loved the character of Zephyr, Celes’ best friend who as a Wisp is not afforded the same rights as everyone else. Imogene was also an interesting character, although I’d love to see her fleshed out more. When the true villain of the story finally revealed themselves, I was actually surprised. It truly was one of those “the person you least expect” moments. The Kingdom Lights can be a standalone novel, but the ending also leaves room for another story. I rather hope the author continues with this. I’d like to find out more about this magical world.
*UPDATE* I just received an email from Steven who is indeed writing a series. Phew! And in his words, he “Has a plan”!