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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little gem...
I suspect I'm well outside the target audience for this one - I'd assume it'll be marketed for young adults of Gavin's young teen age but 400+ pages of tiny print, strong language in places and magical sequences from the 1500s might put it outside the comfort zone of the Harry Potter fan. But this really was a little gem. The first of a trilogy, set in Cornwall in the...
Published on 2 Jan 2012 by Welsh Annie

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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointed by this.
I love mythology. I've always enjoyed reading about the myths and legends of various different cultures and Treadwell blends bits and pieces of some of my favourites up in a blender and laces Advent with them. I also love poetic prose. I like narratives to weave and wander. It's one of the reasons I love Tolkien or the meandering narrative of Susanna Clarke. Given my...
Published on 24 May 2012 by @Scattered_Laura


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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointed by this., 24 May 2012
This review is from: Advent (Advent Trilogy) (Hardcover)
I love mythology. I've always enjoyed reading about the myths and legends of various different cultures and Treadwell blends bits and pieces of some of my favourites up in a blender and laces Advent with them. I also love poetic prose. I like narratives to weave and wander. It's one of the reasons I love Tolkien or the meandering narrative of Susanna Clarke. Given my liking of these things, I feel Advent should have sat quite nicely with my tastes... and yet I can't quite say that it did.

Even though the book has quite a lot going for it, the main reason it isn't sitting pretty with might not even be Treadwell's fault. When I put the book down, my first thought was of the his editor, whoever that may have been. I couldn't help but wonder why this 448 page book was allowed to stay 448 pages long when, frankly, a solid half of those pages were unnecessary.

Treadwell's prose is quite often pretty, but equally as often it's pretty pointless. He seemsto be a big fan of what writers call "purple prose". Don't get me wrong, the imagery is nice and all, but when every sentence is ridiculously dense, every description repetitive... it's tiring. While I was reading it I got the sense that Treadwell's editor hadn't ever imparted Arthur Quiller-Couch's sage advice that sometimes, even when you've written the most beautifully artistic prose, if it's repetitive or redundant, you must "murder your darlings".

Now, I'm not going to argue that much of Treadwell's writing is actually quite lovely. In places it's almost poetry. Unfortunately, somewhere within these lovely sentences and long, artsy paragraphs, the story got lost. At the beginning of the book I quite liked Gavin...even though he was called "Gavin". I sympathised with his situation and was curious to know more about the mysterious things he could see but nobody else could. I was curious about the missing aunt. I was curious about Marina, the strange girl of Pendurra who had never heard swear words before.

Unfortunately, my curiosity fizzled out well before the narrative started to get going on roughly page 150. I slogged through it, but this was a book I was kind of relieved to close. All I can say at the end of it is that I can see James Treadwell is a very educated man who can write. That's what will stick with me. Not the prose. Not the characters. Not the re-imagined mythological figures. If he (or his editor) could have sliced and diced this 448 page whopper, then I think there might have been a good and gripping story within those pages.

This one might sit better with someone more concerned with the art of pretty prose than with story. Unfortunately, I'm not that person.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Takes too long to get going, 7 Jan 2013
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I was pleased to pick this up as it is advertised as the first part of a trilogy, which is always a treat provided volume 1 can cut the mustard. Sadly, for me it didn't really. It was necessary to plough through many pages before anything in particular happened: young teenage boy, conflict with parents who admittedly seem more than usually insensitive, is packed off to stay with maiden aunt while they go on holiday. Aunt doesn't turn up to meet him as promised. He spends the night alone in the aunt's house after being given a lift by a lady he meets on the train and the next day makes his way to the closest house. The book takes too long to get anywhere. The whole of the story takes place over a very short period of time and there was too much descriptive text - well written, admittedly, but still padding after all - and the ending was not satisfying. Of course if you are writing a trilogy you need to leave your readers with loose ends and wanting to know what will happen next, but to be honest I was just pleased to get it over with. It was a clever idea but without enough meat to give it flavour. I don't think I'll be picking up volume 2.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little gem..., 2 Jan 2012
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Welsh Annie (Wetherby) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Advent (Advent Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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I suspect I'm well outside the target audience for this one - I'd assume it'll be marketed for young adults of Gavin's young teen age but 400+ pages of tiny print, strong language in places and magical sequences from the 1500s might put it outside the comfort zone of the Harry Potter fan. But this really was a little gem. The first of a trilogy, set in Cornwall in the present day but turning into a fantastical magic story with engaging young characters and building a belief in magic, mythical creatures and incredible happenings. I was absolutely engrossed by it - the mysterious Miss Grey, Hester the "nutty professor" with the wall of masks, Marina and her unusual parentage, the vanished aunt, then the grotesques that appear and are as real as the earthly characters. Quite complex in parts - the Magus sequences break up the adventure but are central to the story - this really is a rattling good read and Gavin is a wonderfully drawn teenage hero. I'm not really a trilogy reader, but with its clever setting up at the end I think this is a series I'll stick with. This really is a highly accomplished first novel, for adults and the YA audience alike.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, flawed but maybe the next big thing, 27 Nov 2011
By 
Sensible Cat (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Advent (Advent Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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Most fantasies for older children/YAs are stories of the protagonist being drawn into another world, where magic reigns and natural laws do not apply. That is the template of the Hero's Journey, from Star Wars, to Lord of the Rings and many more. Usually, the hero eventually returns to the everyday world, transformed.

But this is a different story, a story of the terrifying, elemental power of magic re-entering our everyday existence, transforming not only the main character, but everyone and everything. Treadwell's keen ear for contemporary speech patterns and behaviour makes this a powerful and unsettling concept, and suggests that, even at the end of his projected trilogy, there will be no return to order as we now know it.

Cornwall is a natural setting for such a story to begin, and when Gavin, a disaffected teenager banished from boarding school and alienated from his parents, is packed off on a train to Truro to stay with an eccentric aunt that he barely knows, the scene appears to be set for a formulaic English fantasy. But what happens after he arrives and there is no dotty aunt to meet him takes us into very different territory.

Like many writers of fantasy who have created their own inner worlds, Treadwell writes haunting and beautiful prose and has a deep feeling for landscape and the way it is shaped by local history and topography. I've never seen Cornwall captured better, even by Daphne Du Maurier. But the familiar Gothic scenario of a mysterious, remote country house with its occupants marooned in time and menaced by supernatural forces develops into something equally influenced by classic science fiction narratives of a menacing alien presence invading the charmed world of faerie and the banality of everyday life. A sort of Rebecca meets Day of the Triffids meets Doctor Who (but without the lightness of touch).

The book certainly has its weaknesses. Treadwell is an academic and can't resist complicated sentences filled with qualifying subordinate clauses and abstract nouns. He adopts the voice of the omniscient narrator and, while this certainly suits the story's epic quality, this limits his ability to capture his character's language and thought proccesses in a gripping way. It takes about 150 pages of dense and repetitive exposition and worldbuilding to get to the point where things begin to hot up. But that doesn't necessarily preclude him from being the next Tolkien: plenty of people struggled to get as far as "The Council of Elrond" in LOTR. It's notoriously difficult to predict what the next cult fantasy phenomenon is going to be. Hodder just might have hit the jackpot and, while I'd have preferred a little more hands-on editing, the lack of it never seemed to do JK Rowling any harm.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Advent, 30 Aug 2012
This review is from: Advent (Advent Trilogy) (Hardcover)
This is the first book in an exciting new trilogy. Don't let the length of the book put you off because it's well worth every second spent in the company of Gavin and co.

'Advent' got off to an intriguing start - the very first chapter is set in 1537 and centres on the greatest Magus in the world. My interest was immediately piqued and I couldn't wait to read on and further immerse myself in the story. After the first chapter, the focus changes to the present day with young Gavin setting off on the train to stay with his Aunt Gwen in Cornwall. Almost straight away, we know that there's something different about Gavin. He's no ordinary boy as he can see people who aren't really there. This has always frightened his parents with whom he doesn't have a very close relationship. He's gradually learnt to keep many things to himself for fear of what others will say.

During the second half of the book, the emphasis is more on the magical and fantastical parts of the story and this is where a lot of things gradually began to click into place for me.

Pendurra, Conrwall was a brilliantly entrancing setting. I could almost feel the magic in the air and there's a tangible sense of something mysterious and unseen to normal human eyes about the place. The possibility that anything could happen is very real and Pendurra almost seems like it's from another time with residents who are enigmatic and mysterious.

The book is based on the Faust legend of a scholar making a deal with the devil in exchange for knowledge and worldly pleasures. I thought this was really clever and added an extra dimension to the book. There are also elements of Arthurian myths and legends which is another aspect I enjoyed.

The story is multi-layered and although I can't confess to understanding everything that happens in the book I think that is actually part of it's charm. 'Advent' seems like the type of book that you'll pick up over and over again and each time you'll reread it and discover as well as understand, more of the secrets contained within its pages.

This book is exquisitely written and will definitely appeal to lovers of the fantasy genre. I also think it has crossover appeal for adults as well as teens. The intriguing ending has left me in great anticipation of the next book in the trilogy which will hopefully be out next year.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating fantasy in the Garner/Cooper tradition, 23 Mar 2012
By 
Joanne Sheppard (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Advent (Advent Trilogy) (Hardcover)
Set in Cornwall and steeped in a strange concoction of folklore from Greek myth to Faust via Arthurian legend, James Treadwell's Advent is an eerie fantasy in the tradition of Alan Garner and Susan Cooper, in which ancient magic surges back into being in modern day rural England. It's apparently aimed at a young adult readership - at least, that was the section in which I found it at Waterstone's and the main character is a misunderstood 15-year-old. But, like Garner's Red Shift and The Owl Service, its plot and themes are complex and multi-layered with a huge sense of historic scale, and it more than stands up to an adult readership. In fact, I would guess that some younger teenagers might struggle with elements of Advent (although that is, of course, no reason for them not to read it; I'm all for younger readers being challenged and accepting that sometimes the most valuable reads are the ones you don't quite understand).

If I have any criticisms of Advent, it's that there are times when some of the elements just didn't seem to gel quite as cohesively as I wanted them to - although I can't say I didn't enjoy each part individually - and there were one or two times when I felt the flashback sections about a mysterious magus (who turns to be a familiar character from literature and legend) were just a little too overblown in their angsty seriousness. However, the gradual descent of the magus from a dedicated, experimental scholar into something desperate, bitter and rotten-to-the-core is chilling and impressive.

Gavin is a wholly likeable protagonist. A confused, lonely teenage boy whose relationship with his parents is difficult at best, it would have been easy to make him self-pitying, brattish or, horror of horrors, just a little bit emo. But Treadwell never falls into this trap. Gavin, who has been seeing things all his life that aren't really there, is struggling through his teens trying to do the right thing, trying not to disappoint; at the same time, he's realistically angry that his parents and teachers would rather he was superficially `normal' than truthful.

Other characters are fun too, particularly the secretive, cunning little Horace Jia and `nutty professor' Hester Lightfoot. The inhabitants of Pendurra, the vast Cornish mansion to which Gavin is sent to stay with his kind, eccentric Auntie Gwen, were perhaps not quite as three-dimensional as I would have liked, but Advent isn't really `their' story (not yet anyway - it's apparently the first in a trilogy) so perhaps that's understandable. Auntie Gwen herself, however, practically leaps off the page, which for reasons that become clear as you read the book, is a particularly clever feat on Treadwell's part. Undoubtedly my favourite supporting players, though, are Corbo and Holly. One a sinister, croaking man-crow and the other the living spirit of a tree, they are the reluctant servants of evil. Fabulously other-worldly in some ways and yet simultaneously intrinsically of this world in others, they are brilliantly memorable fantasy creations.

After a mysterious yet pleasantly ambling start, Advent builds into fast-paced action and tension towards its end. It's a long read for a young adult novel, at over 400 pages, and I've seen other reviews claiming it needed a tighter edit - but I never felt that was so. For me, almost every word was a pleasure, and the slow build of the beginning was a masterclass in building the atmosphere and eeriness that makes this book special.

The final chapter seems to be very much part of the second book in the planned trilogy. In fact, I'd almost rather it had been left out altogether for that reason, or perhaps just `trailed' as a teaser as is common for sequels these days, but that's rather beside the point: I thoroughly enjoyed Advent and am only aggrieved that I'll have to wait before I can get stuck into the as-yet-unpublished book two.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book indeed., 20 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Advent (Advent Trilogy) (Hardcover)
This was actually published in February this year, but I have only recently seen it reviewed (in the Fortean Times, as it happens) and as soon as I did I downloaded it onto my Kindle and read the lot, staying up until after midnight to finish it.
I love this book. I was rather surprised by some of the reviews which suggest it is too long (no! I would have liked more), with too much description and even what one reviewer called purple prose. I like the style. I was hooked immediately by the main character - Gavin (and there is a reason for his name), a schoolboy who hears and sees things that other people don't. After a lifetime of, Come off it, Gav, and You're too old for that kind of thing now, from his highly unsympathetic father, and rather helpless mother he comes out to his headmaster who promptly suggests that the school is not the best place for him and he is bundled off to Cornwall to stay with an Aunt. Intercut with his story is that of a sixteenth century magus who is about to leave his native Germany to wait out the tumults of the Reformation in a backwater off the French coast called England, and in anticipation of this has changed his name to John Fiste...but the alert reader will probably guess who he is, just as they will identify `Miss Grey', the woman Gavin sees so often - although no one else does - but hears only in dreams until she appears to him on the train with the terrifying cry of Otototoi! - not a good omen for his journey.
Gradually the journeys of the magus and the boy come together, in a series of terrifying events and the book ends with death and what may be the first snows of Fimbulwinter (the three years of winter that come before Ragnarok) sweep across Cornwall.
There are two more volumes and if the author can keep up the standards of his first I shall be very happy indeed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite fulfill it's potential, 12 Jan 2013
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15 year old Gavin has never quite fitted in, both at home and at school he feels like an outcast. The problem is that he sees and hears things that other people don't, mainly a mysterious woman whom he calls Miss Grey. Sent away to stay with his Aunt Gwen in Cornwall for a week, however, events start taking an even stranger turn than usual; beginning when his Aunt Gwen fails to turn up at the station to collect him. Entwining with Gavin's story is that of Johannes, a powerful Magus from the 1500s, who is dabbling in dark and powerful magic; a magic that will have far reaching consequences!
Advent makes for an imaginative and interesting tale, drawing heavily from the Faust Legend, as well as the story of Cassandra; and not being previously familiar with these stories I have to say I was compelled to read up on them. There is also reference to Arthurian Legend, and Treadwell does a commendable job of working aspects from all these different legends together in his very own tale.
The story starts off very promisingly, I was intruiged by Gavin's strange gift and the mysterious Miss Grey from the beginning, and when on arriving in Cornwall he finds his aunt missing, things look set to become even more interesting. Treadwell writes the chapters with Gavin alone in the cottage with a real sense of atmosphere and haunting; indeed the prose throughout the book is beautifully descriptive and Treadwell conjures a vivid picture of wild Cornwall.
There are a host of memorable characters including 'nutty' Hester Lightfoot, enchantingly innocent Marina, as well as a number of fantastical creatures, Corbo and Holly, two later arrivals in the story particularly impressive.
My criticism, however, would be that the story rather starts to drag after the halfway mark; and the latter part of the book did not live up to the expectation built in the earlier parts. Nothing much seems to happen over a number of chapters and a lot of it simply seemed like unncessary padding, with almost repetitive conversations and encounters. Furthermore, Treadwell makes things unnecesarily more complicated by adding chunks from other character's perspectives such as Horace Jia, which just didn't connect as much to me; whilst other characters seemed forgotten. Also whilst I appreciate this is the first part of a trilogy, the ending seemed too disjointed and incomplete.
Overall I have to say that given how immersed I had been in the first half of the book, I was disappointed at how things panned out and felt there was a lot more potential there.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly spell-binding, 4 Dec 2011
By 
Petra Bryce "bookworm" (Malvern, Worcs) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Advent (Advent Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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This novel, the first in a trilogy, introduces us to 15-year-old Gavin, a lonely and unhappy teenager who feels abandoned by everyone around him because he sees things that are invisible to others. Having been thrown out of school, his parents send him to spend a week with his eccentric aunt in Cornwall. But when he arrives in Truro there's no one there to meet him. Things then take a completely unexpected turn and set the scene for an absolutely fantastic book.

Without giving anything away, the book deals with the notion that magic was once abundant in this world but was forgotten and, as the blurb tells us, is now 'rising to the world once more'. This is a dark and eerie novel, full of mystery, more suitable for the young adult and adult market than the children's. It reminds me of some of the fairy-tales and legends of old, and certainly Gavin is a reluctant hero, embarking on a journey of self-discovery and destined to go on a quest. James Treadwell is a consummate and skilled storyteller, weaving a rich tapestry of words. He's got a wonderful feeling for language: his prose is hauntingly beautiful at times, his characters' speech patterns, but also his descriptions of everyday situations and places, have a very authentic ring to them, so that when he describes the arrival of mythical and monstrous creatures and spirits, and the existence of warlocks and magic in present-day Cornwall (where else?), I took everything at face value because it sounded so completely plausible in his words. Some of the plot developments are pretty intense and terrifying, with chapters ending on cliffhangers, so that I was compelled to carry on reading even though I felt as breathless and exhausted as Gavin. The long chapters build up the atmosphere and tension, posing more questions at first than answers are forthcoming, and the reader has to put their trust in the narrator for it all to come together and make sense. If you're someone who just dips in for a couple of pages at night time, this book might not work for you, but then I dare you not to be swept away by the author's flight of the imagination and read on for hours. The worst thing about this book: that I will now have to wait for about another year for the next volume to come along.

Rarely has a book entranced me as much as this one: well done and thank you, Mr Treadwell.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical Modern Day Fable, 2 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Advent (Advent Trilogy) (Hardcover)
For centuries it has been locked away

Lost beneath the sea

Warded from earth, air, water, fire, spirits, thought and sight.

But now magic is rising to the world once more.

Gavin has given up on the adults in his life, and they've given up on him. His father appears to hate him, his mother is scared of him, his teachers think maybe he should be in a different school. What he has is a gift - one he neither wants nor understands. At fifteen, his closest friend and confidante is the mysterious Miss Grey, although he has given up trying to talk to people about her as it only seems to upset them. Turned out of school, and not included in his parents' holiday plans he catches a train to what may be his last haven; his aunt Gwen in Cornwall.

However, she is not there to meet him. Instead the weather is turning bad, and unnerving things are stirring.

Gavin is at that difficult age between childhood and being an adult. He is filled with uncertainty and he doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. When the reader is first introduced to him you aren't given a great deal of detail about what is going on but as each new chapter unfolds a little bit more of a larger puzzle is revealed. There are secrets everywhere you look in Advent. Conversations occur and it is not until later on in the book that their relevance suddenly becomes clear. Gavin's journey is a voyage of self-discovery as he uncovers the truth about his family and the secrets that have surrounded him since birth.

As the main narrative follows Gavin the reader only discovers information as Gavin discovers it. I did start to panic at one point that I just couldn't get my head around what was going on but it turns out that I needn't have worried. Once Gavin starts to find answers to his questions I very quickly had my own epiphany moment, at around page three hundred, everything just started to click and it all suddenly made a wonderful kind of sense. I'm glad that I persevered and I should stress that it is entirely worthwhile sticking with the story.

The other characters that the reader encounters are just as intriguing as Gavin. It seems that everyone that lives in this tiny little corner of Cornwall has his or her own secrets. There is the `nutty' professor Hester Lightfoot who has left academia under a cloud, the Uren family who live at Pendurra itself and a whole cavalcade of other slightly odd types. I haven't even mentioned the mysterious John Fiste, the greatest magus the world has ever seen.

The author has taken key elements from various mythologies and deftly woven them into his story. Arthurian legend, classic Greek myth and Celtic folklore are represented amongst others. It's a strength of the narrative that these have all been blended together seamlessly to create a modern day fable.

The thing that really captured my imagination was the main location used in the novel. I've been fortunate enough to have visited Cornwall in the past and Treadwell's writing vividly captures the isolated house, Pendurra, where Gavin finds himself. It's easy to believe that if magic was going to return it would be to somewhere so remote like this.

Acting as a preview to the next novel the final chapter moves the story away from Cornwall, to somewhere completely different, and offers some tantalising hints that the scope of this trilogy is going to get much larger when the sequel does arrive. Advent is a compelling debut that mixes fantasy with reality to create the first part of what promises to be an extraordinary tale. I'm already looking forward to reading the rest of it.
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Advent (Advent Trilogy)
Advent (Advent Trilogy) by James Treadwell (Hardcover - 2 Feb 2012)
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