Newly orphaned Penny Sinclair is shipped off to move in with her new guardian Susan. Consumed with grief, uncertainty and sorrow Penny’s reluctance to pick up and start new in the small town of Dogwood is evident. After settling in, she soon meets a new friend in Zoe and the two embark upon a sisterhood of one adventure after the next. Things aren’t always exactly as they seem as the inseparable duo meets a talking fox and discover a hidden cavern with a plethora of tools for creating magic. While the two practice their spells and wand yielding whenever they can a very real threat has presented itself in the sleepy town of Dogwood. Children have gone missing, increasing by the day. Could a travelling illusionist Tovar the Great be the key to the children’s whereabouts or will Penny and Zoe unravel the mystery before them before it’s too late?
I’m often rendered with a sense of unease when picking up a novel that is deemed, ‘book one’ before learning anything about the series or discovering what merits a sequel, trilogy or multiple part story without delving into the adventure. It’s comparable to seeing a film that is labelled as part one without deciding if you enjoyed the experience and want to explore further. It’s a little idiosyncrasy I have that I’ll whole heartedly admit its prejudiced. Yet at the same time I find the whole marketing debacle a little on the presumptuous side. It’s unfair to the creator or author of such as endeavors as I quite literally roll my eyes before even turning to page one.
I must confess I couldn’t be any further off the mark in the case of The Phoenix Girls: The Conjuring Glass. Billed as a young adult novel, I believe this tale of magic, wonderment and mystique just as easily translates unto a mature audience as well. Suffice to state you need not be an adolescent to fully enjoy the works of one Brian Knight.
I find far too often the imagination component within a lot of adults is lost as we continue to develop beyond our formative years. We’re exposed to a preconception from society that we must behave in an entirely rational manner often expected to abandon the very things that give us joy as children. Knight rekindles our sense of purity and imagination in this spell binding tale.
The story of The Conjuring Glass has a central theme of adolescent isolation and alienation. Any teens or young adults who have sustained an inability to fit in or perhaps been bullied at one stage in life will readily relate and identify with the main character of Penny Sinclair. We invest into the character and find ourselves almost on a subconscious level rooting her on in her series of misadventures.
Despite the obvious demographic The Phoenix Girls is marketed to I find it most admirable Knight’s refusal to insult his readerships’ intelligence. Grammatically speaking and vocabulary wise, the author illustrates a highly visual, vivid picture high on style, prose and action. There’s little exposition involved and a great deal of the story is told through subtlety in dialogue and action. The interpersonal relationships between Penny, Susan and Zoe are enthralling. We recognize their humanistic qualities and can easily identify with their personal fallacies and miscommunication.
A great deal of monologue, inner thought and emotion is utilized to present hints of what may become. I admire Knight’s ability to lead the readership in one direction, investing us further in our literary exploration without giving us any indication of certainty.
The talking fox Ronan is a symbolic figure on the girls’ quest to develop their magical talents. His involvement in the tale is as equally compelling and crucial to development as the main characters.
Knight caps of the tale with much anticipation for a sequel. His works will appeal to a wide audience either newly intrigued to reading or enchanted even further. A must read for fans in search of rekindling their sense of purity and endless imagination.
Book Review: Phoenix Girls: The Conjuring Glass – Author Brian Knight