Sleeping Kings by John Prentice: Review

Format: ebookPublished: April 12th 2011 by John Prentice, via Smashwords ISBN:  0011270802 (ISBN13: 2940011270802)Edition language: English
Format: ebook
Published: April 12th 2011 by John Prentice, via Smashwords
ISBN: 0011270802 (ISBN13: 2940011270802)
Edition language: English

Synopsis from Goodreads: Nik was a normal teen computer geek until her parents split up and her father dragged her off to France.
The move cost her everything; friends, family, even her obsession; an online computer game.
Then she meets a dead guy who’s protecting a secret as old as the mountains themselves, and suddenly people want her and the most gorgeous boy she’s ever met, dead too.
When she finds out who she really is, things get freaky. The race is on, and she’s got to beat the clock – a clock that’s been ticking for seven hundred years.
Time has just run out for Nicola Roscoe.
It could be…Game Over!

Source: Author for a fair and honest review

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review: John Prentice’s Sleeping Kings is a young adult novel that revolves around the lives of Nicola, her geologist father, and super-nerdy neighbor, Daan.  After her mother and father divorce, Nicola’s father moves the two of them to a small town in France where Nicola is forced to give up her one true love, on-line gaming.  While Nicola is sure life as she knows it is over, she is about to find out that her life has only truly just begun.

Prentice moves quickly into the plot where, on a field trip with their class, Nicola and Daan unceremoniously fall into an old and uncharted cave.  As if this doesn’t suck enough, the two find themselves face-to-face with Pedro, a living, breathing man who can apparently turn any substance into another and died in the year 1213.  Okie dokie, Nicola and Daan surely bumped their heads a little too hard on the way down, right?  Not so much – neither were hurt in the fall and both become immediately embroiled in a conspiracy that stretches all the way back to the 13th century.

Prentice offers the reader an easy read that is moderately-paced and steeped in French Cathar history.  This history is one of the novel’s greatest strengths and it is used to help further the major plot line: the Cathar discovery of the secrets of alchemy.  Nicola and Daan are essentially forced into helping Pedro and his comrades put down a modern-day plot to recover the Cathar secret, known as the Power and destroy the world.  What is interesting about the kids’ involvement is exactly how connected they really are to both Pedro and the Cathar legacy.

I liked the characters in this book and in particular I liked Pedro and Daan.  Pedro is an honorable man who has literally sacrificed centuries to protect what the Cathars discovered.  Additionally, Pedro helps Nicola understand her role in the plot and protects her when necessary.  Daan, on the other hand is a contemporary character whose knowledge of history and spouting of historical facts is rather delightful.  Rather than dryly reporting the historical information that is necessary for the reader to understand the plot, Prentice uses Pedro and Daan to convey the information through dialogue; a clever and much more entertaining way to tell me what I need to know.

The only parts of the book that I found off-putting are the chapters that take place in a place called “Somewhere Else”.  I believe these chapters are meant to lay the groundwork for the continuation of the series but frankly, they added absolutely nothing to this first-in-the-series book.  For me, these chapters were annoying interruptions of an otherwise very good read.

The Bottom Line: even with the bothersome Somewhere Else chapters, Sleeping Kings is still a very good start to the Dark Force series.  There is plenty of action, good and very interesting historical information, and characters who work nicely within the plot.  This is a novel that will certainly appeal to both young adults and adults.

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