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Review: The New Brighton Archeological Society, Book One

After their adventurer parents are killed on an expedition, four children–brother and sister pairs Conner and Joss and Mitch and Becca–are sent to live in a mysterious old house with their godparents, the Macombers. In the New Brighton Woods surrounding the house, they discover a magical world of beings they had only heard of in folklore. But a deadly enemy, Galomar, is on the move, looking for a hidden library that holds many secrets. The children must begin a battle between good and evil that will hopefully protect those secrets, while also avenging their parents’ deaths.

The New Brighton Archeological Society, Book One: The Castle of Galomar
Mark Andrew Smith; art by Matthew Weldon
Ages 9-13; Grades 4-7
Image, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-58240-973-3
179 pages, $17.99

Smith and Weldon have a good idea for a plot, but they don’t completely realize it. At times the writing is too subtle and at other times the dialog almost takes over, both of which cause the plot to be rather sluggish for an adventure story. The characters are only beginning to be developed in this first volume, so we don’t really get a sense of who the children are. This makes it more difficult to identify with them. Despite these problems, though, the core of the tale is unique enough to catch readers’ attention, especially as elements are set in place for future volumes.

Wheldon’s art is cartoonish in a very effective way. His characters’ oversized heads give them a child-like appearance without seeming childish, which is good for a title that will appeal to older elementary school students and younger middle schoolers. When the plot jumps a little too abruptly from scene to scene, the art is what keep things grounded and moving smoothly. Though the coloring was done by a host of artists, it doesn’t have a choppy feel to it and the palette is perfectly chosen to fit the story.

Though this first volume isn’t a perfect effort, it’s still a decent read. Give this to readers who like novel series such as The Mysterious Benedict Society (by Trenton Lee Stewart from Hachette) or graphic novel series like Gunnerkrigg Court (by Tom Siddell from Archaia) to read while they’re waiting for the next volumes in the series to come out. They’ll enjoy the read and will probably look for the next volume.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Image.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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