Matthew Skelton's Endymion Spring
Children's book review by Sarah Denslow
A book about a magical book
Quite possibly my favorite book for this age group, Endymion Spring is a wonderful part adventure, part fantasy, part historical fiction novel that more than deserved its time on the New York Times bestseller list.
Taking place partially in modern day Oxford and partially in 15th century Germany, Endymion combines a magical adventure in the scholarly world of Oxford with a wonderfully creative tale involving the invention of the printing press.
Blake, the modern day protagonist of the story, is a refreshingly normal kid. He and his precocious younger sister, Duck, have accompanied their mother to England while she does research at Oxford.
One day, while meandering through the stacks of the Bodleian Library, Blake’s fingers brush across a book that seems to bite back. Looking for the offending volume, Blake finds a completely blank book bearing the mysterious title Endymion Spring. When a riddle only Blake can see appears on one of the snow-white pages of the book, it’s clear that Blake and Duck have a mystery (quite literally) on their hands.
The siblings’ attempts to discover the secrets of the book bring them into contact with a rather unusual group of scholars and professors at the college, not all of whom, it’s clear, can be trusted.
Alternating with Blake’s and Duck’s story are sections of narrative from Endymion Spring himself, a boy living in 15 century Germany. These sections tell the tale of how the mysterious book came to be. Though unable to speak, Endymion is unusually observant and records the fateful events that eventually bring him to Oxford with insight beyond his years.
Like Blake and Duck, Endymion finds himself in a world of adults who are not entirely trustworthy. Apprentice to none other than Gutenberg himself, the inventor of the printing press, Endymion unwittingly becomes the possessor of an unusual and powerful parchment. With the sinister figure of Johann Fust trying to use the parchment for his own ends, Endymion must find a way to safeguard the precious material.
It would be impossible to further explain the book's wonderful twists and beautiful logic in a way that would do justice to the work. I can only say that it is an immensely satisfying book and comes closer to being a perfect novel than anything I’ve read in years.
This wonderful book should entertain and enchant any reader; however, it's a particularly wonderful gift for any bibliophile. It is clear how much Skelton loves books themselves, and his descriptions of the Bodleian Library and the musty tomes within are simply lovely.
Moreover, Endymion Spring is, in the end, a story about a book, and a book with super powers at that. The volume Blake discovers in the library is what every book lover dreams of finding: a book that never ends and is always fascinating.
Read Endymion Spring for the adventure, read it for the magic, or read it for the sheer love of books; just don’t be surprised if you find yourself wishing that, like Blake’s enchanted book, this one wouldn’t end either.
Read more of Sarah's reviews.
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