Saturday, November 17, 2012
Book Review: Secrets of New Forest Academy
As the first entry in the series, Whiteside’s Janitors was a charming, entertaining, and recommendable read. As the sequel, Secrets of New Forest Academy legitimizes Whiteside’s presence in the admittedly bloated genre of young adult fantasy series writers. Genuinely clever and frequently funny, Secrets reads with an ease that is not merely the byproduct of aiming at a younger audience. Whiteside’s writing has matured noticeably since his 2011 debut, the thinly-veiled morality lessons of book #1 pleasantly omitted here. This isn’t to say that the book is perfect. The parallels to Harry Potter are hard to miss, such as Spencer’s discovery that he has a psychic connection to the enemy. There are also times when the narrative seems to get sloppy, leaving gaping questions in the mind of the reader. In actuality, those questions will all be answered within a few more pages of reading, and yet it seems the reader’s temporary beguilement should be better reflected in the fictional characters themselves. It’s a minor complaint, but one that takes the reader that much more out of the story.