Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Review: James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper

James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper
James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper by G. Norman Lippert

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Samuel Johnson (the dictionary man) once famously said to a young author whose book he'd been asked to review that there were parts of it that were good, and parts of it that were original. But the good parts were not original, and the original parts were not good.

This book is largely the opposite. The original characters (including those that might as well be original characters, because J.K. Rowling has done little more than write their names on a genealogical chart) worked well for me, but the characters from original canon were a huge miss. Cedric Diggory, for example, returns as a ghost, and struck me as completely unlike the canon Cedric Diggory in every possible way.

Again, the setting elements that are original, like the hiding place for Merlin's cache, are well-described and interesting. The elements taken from canon are often subtly or unsubtly wrong, or are left vaguely described because, of course, all the readers will know what they look like.

There's also a magic item swiped straight out of Terry Pratchett's [b:Making Money|116296|Making Money (Discworld, #36)|Terry Pratchett|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347591666s/116296.jpg|144656], which I found jarring, and the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is a seemingly more competent Gilderoy Lockhart.

The first book suffered from a thin and unlikely plot in which James was not much of a protagonist, and at 30% (the point where I stopped) I didn't see anything to indicate that this volume would be any different.

The author's command of the language also hasn't improved: he refers to "yokes for horses" on the front of a carriage, says "belied" where he clearly means "betrayed", repeatedly uses "disinterested" to mean "uninterested", says "forge mighty rivers" instead of "ford", uses the expression "time's have changed" with the misplaced apostrophe, misspells "burrs", doesn't know what "decimated" means, can't spell "Ignatius", uses "ballyhooed" to mean "whooped", has a British character use the word "anyplace", and (again, as in volume 1) writes "who's" when he means "whose".

I decided it wasn't worth carrying on for the good bits when I was so frequently being jarred by the bits that weren't good. It's a pity.

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