Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Review: The Legend of Black Jack by A.R. Witham

Today's read heads into fantasy pure and promises tons of excitement. So, I had to take a peek. Ready for a unique fantasy spin? 

by A.R Witham
Nepenthe House
Young Adult Fantasy
ages 10 to 14

MAY 20th!!!

They say he was an outsider. A man with no home, no family, no friend to call his own. The man with nothing left to love. The empty man.

They say he talked to animals. They say he traveled between worlds. They say he killed a god, and they may be right. He prowled the border between light and dark. He beat the devil himself with a walking stick. He healed a thousand people in a single day and killed a dragon the same midnight.

They say there was a woman. They say he died for her. No one knows the truth.

Those are the legends about him.

If you want to know the truth I will tell you.

The Legend of Black Jack is a coming-of-age fantasy adventure complete with full-page illustrations, written by Emmy-winning writer A. R. Witham. It begins on a stormy night in Chicago but Jack Swift’s true destination lies far, far away. The skillful magic of A.R. Witham’s story whisks you away from your everyday world to an unbelievable journey with unexpected action and unforgettable characters



While this is an action-packed read, it's the unique twists and characters which really make this one shine.

Jack has always been special and been able to remember anything and everything without a second thought. When he accidentally causes his father's death, he does find a home with a surgeon for, at least, a few years until being shoved off into a never-ending shuffle of foster care. When a speaking-rhino kidnaps him from his bedroom and pulls him through a gateway into a magical world, everything as he knows it is tossed onto its head.

This is a very original tale, which allows fantasy and imagination to take flight in a very exciting way. I loved the characters, each one carrying such unique personalities and attributes that it was impossible not to to like them or hate them...which makes each one so special. It's a vivid tale in the world building as well, and has Jack traveling through very different situations and scenes. This originality combined with the well-written and flowing style, makes it an easy and enjoyable read.

The beginning starts with Jack as a seven-year-old, and then zooms through the years until he reaches fourteen. While this one is sold as a young adult read, the writing style and Jack's character slide into the upper middle grade/tween category very well. Jack's decisions and thought processes also settle in this age group nicely. The action stays high the entire way through, keeping the pacing high. There is enough depth to keep Jack interesting, but most of the time, he is battling to get through and survive...or just figuring things out. On that end, this isn't as much character driven as plot drive. Jack is thrown, especially in the first half, from situation into situation without much doing on his own. It does make for an interesting coming-of-age, but I still recommend this one for fantasy friends who love a good story and are on the look-out to go beyond the cliches, which flood the genre today.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Always good to see a fresh spin on fantasy.

Heather N. Quinn said...

What an exciting premise. Being kidnapped by a rhino -- Wow! Sounds like a unique story.