Teenage twins, Max and Jess, find themselves destined to be in the middle of the action as King Arthur and Francis Drake return to protect Britain's freedom from an unknown threat. James Holden-White draws on history, legend and twenty-first century law to craft the driving narrative of his début novel, Awaken Destiny.
This is a novel peopled with clearly defined, recognisable characters. Holden-White's Drake is hilariously pompous and self-aggrandising counterbalanced with a dignified, modest and egalitarian Arthur. His villains, Hitoadie and Dreadmore, are delightfully nasty and are crafted with a Dahl-like quality. Their civil servant side-kicks, Rindburn and Sludboil are very funny in their self-serving arrogance and unwitting incompetence.
With a strong linear structure, once the plot is established it drives through the novel so compellingly that I found myself attempting to tend to my dinner as it bubbled on the stove without taking my eyes of the page. Holden-White's evident enthusiasm for British history is palpable throughout. He integrates historical context with infectious joy and colour making this book a superb portal into historical learning for its young target audience. With scenes in Glastonbury, Cheddar, Bath, the M4, Whitehall and the Tower of London, Awaken Destiny celebrates Britain's landscape. Through reference to Celts, Romans, Saxons and our multi-cultural society, Holden-White achieves a non-jingoistic patriotism that demonstrates a British identity growing and thriving through change.