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The Protector's Pledge: Volume 1 (Secrets of Oscuros) Paperback – 11 May 2015
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About the Author
Danielle Y. C. McClean is a translator, interpreter, and substitute teacher. She has degrees in French, Spanish, and law, and is passionate about language, mythology, and learning about different cultures. Originally from the Caribbean republic of Trinidad and Tobago, she currently lives in Tennessee with her husband and two children. The Protector’s Pledge is McClean’s debut novel and the first book in the Secrets of Oscuros series. You can visit her online at www.daniellemcclean.com.
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Edited to add that I just saw that Ms. McClean has been awarded 3rd Place Winner of CODE’s 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. A well-deserved honor for a first time author.
The story is believable because it flows wonderfully.
There are also a few additions of the mythical folklore-ish kind, that make me smile. I love folklore and Danielle effortlessly weaves a web that entertains and teaches.
This review was completed through Caribbean Books Foundation review programme contact marsha(a)caribbeanbook.org
McClean, Danielle Y.C. The Protector’s Pledge. (Secrets of Oscuros; Book 1) CreateSpace, 2015. 213p., illus. 978-1-5029-5845-7 pbk.
As a librarian, I have always wished that I could write that perfect book specially for the children of my twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, one in which they could find themselves, but which could stand on its merits alongside the best in children’s literature. Now at last I have found one to which I can give my full approval.
Over its 200 pages, the plot unfolds with a good blend of dialogue and just enough commentary to sweep the action along. The author’s voice speaks in perfect English, but the characters are allowed a touch of the Trini dialect, though so subtly done that non-Trinis should have no problem understanding. But just to make sure, there is a comprehensive glossary which explains our culinary treats like toolum and buljol, our legendary characters like Papa Bois, and our wisdom sayings like “Better to mind old clothes than people business”.
Over its 12 short chapters, enveloped between a prologue and an epilogue which heighten the drama, the book itself is a quick read. The paragraphs are short, the font is a good size, and the positioning of the text on the page makes the book visually appealing as the pages appear uncluttered and inviting.
If I had to give a less than perfect score, it would be for the illustrations. At the beginning of each chapter, there is a full-page, black and white drawing, which is marvellous, and essential. But unfortunately the artist is not Trinidadian, and it shows in the representations of our architecture, and our flora. But it will do; I have seen far worse depictions of Papa Bois!
In the final analysis, I highly recommend this book for young readers aged 8 to about 12, and those adults like me who still seek out GOOD children’s literature. I look forward to the other books in the series.
The story, set in Alcavere, a beautiful and peaceful village in the Caribbean unfolds in dramatic fashion. Beginning with a captivating escape from prison by a notorious criminal, the reader is instantly taken on a journey that begins in the city and ends in the village--Alcavere. Much as the story ends in Alcavere, the reader is always conscious of the connection between city and village, and to some extent worlds beyond.
JV- the hero in the story, is only twelve years old. He is the boy that the book's intended audience, young adolescent readers, can easily relate to. In his curious adventures, he asks perplexing questions regarding his identity as well as the "cute" pet in his own household. His curiosity leads him into the deep Oscuros forest, where he makes huge discoveries.
There are many powerful themes throughout this book. One that really hit very close to home for me was "love," the different forms it takes, and the manner in which it transcends human norms. The reader's curiosity is left hanging as the story folds, when a hint is dropped that JV is about to experience a new form of love- as any teenage boy might happen to.
P.S. I read this review to my daughter and she asked that I add this--she liked it because "it's scary." Young people who are able to read it for themselves may find it a little less so, but I'm sure they will enjoy it as a terrific story of adventure with some nail-biting moments, at a minimum.