Saturday, October 08, 2005

'The Divide' series - Elizabeth Kay

I don't know why, but it appears that authors have got a sudden penchant for creating young male heroes with a life-threatening illness; in the last year I've read three series that feature such a character. First there is Garth Nix's series 'The Keys to the Kingdom', featuring Arthur Penhaligon, who has such severe asthma that he almost dies of an asthma attack in the opening chapter. Then there is Mary Hoffman's 'Stravaganza' series, featuring Lucien Mulholland who, as the first book opens, is recovering in hospital from a bout of chemotherapy for a brain tumor. Finally, there is Elizabeth Kay's 'Divide' series, featuring Felix Sanders who is suffering from a fatal heart condition. Strange...

There are certain similiarities between Mary Hoffman's and Elizabeth Kay's series - apart from the fact that both young heroes are terminally ill. Both involve the young hero travelling into another world where magic is commonplace and science is unknown, although in Felix's case, it is not an object, but a place (the Continental Divide) that is responsible for shifting him into the parallel universe. Both series see the young hero's illness cured by magic - which to me seemed a bit too good to be true. However, Elizabeth Kay's series is aimed at younger readers and is consequently more light-hearted than Mary Hoffman's.

Felix finds himself in a world where human beings are considered mythical creatures, but griffins, elves, unicorns, centaurs, sphinxes pixies, gnomes and brownies, and other creatures that Felix (and the reader) would consider to be mythical, not only exist, but live together (if not always harmoniously). Magic can be initiated by most creatures, and when science is introduced, either accidentally or deliberately into the parallel universe, it has some rather alarming consequences (even something as apparently innocuous as printing). Over the course of the trilogy (The Divide, Back to the Divide and The Jinx on the Divide) Felix finds himself growing in strength (literally and metaphorically), learning many new things, making lots of friends, and occasionally facing some very dangerous creatures or situations. There's an interesting twist at the end of the third book in the series, which seems to indicate that no further adventures will befall Felix, which is a shame because I've enjoyed reading them over the past three days.


Kelly said...

Thanks for the review, Michele. I haven't read these ones.

Michele said...

You're welcome ! They're great fun and I imagine they'll go down well with younger fans of Harry Potter or Arthur Penhaligon.