Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Book Review: Gypsy Knights by Two Brothers Metz
Source: From the author via Bewitching Book Tours.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Fourteen-year-old Durriken Brishen has lost his parents, his grandfather, and though he doesn't know it, his Gypsy culture's dangerous gift.
Taken in and raised on the rails by the first woman to pilot a freight train, Durriken has one remaining connection to his Romani roots: a small wooden box that hangs from the hammer loop of his overalls.
The last gift he received from his grandfather, the box contains the world's first chess set. But a piece is missing: the Red Queen. According to Durriken’s family lore, the complete set awakens the power of Tărie, a mercurial gift that confers unique abilities on each new Master.
When a suspicious fire erupts in the Chicago rail yard, Durriken's escape produces an uneasy alliance, though not without its silver lining. Dilia is a few inches taller, several degrees cleverer, and oh yes – very pretty. While Durriken is uneasy allying with a girl whose parents were convicted of sedition, there's no doubt she is a powerful partner. And while it's not immediately clear to either, her own Guatemalan culture and family history are deeply entwined with the ancient Romani mystery.
Jumping box cars, escaping riverboats, deciphering clues, crossing swords with the brilliant madman Radu Pinch – with great American cities as its backdrop – Gypsy Knights is the page-turning saga of Durriken Brishen and his quest to rediscover his past.
Gypsy Knights is different from other books I have read lately, and it was fun to read. I loved the sense of adventure, the mystery and intrigue, the Gypsy culture and the chess.
When I first picked up this book, however, I was confused by it. The first 50 pages or so, while action packed, were tough to pin down. The book jumped around from past to present and to different characters and I had a tough time following, even though the authors kindly put dates at the top of each chapter. I also had trouble getting a sense of the book during this time and figuring out whether it was middle grade, young adult or adult audience.
After the initial 50 pages, though, the book does settle down and I raced right through the rest. I loved the resourcefulness of the main characters, Durriken and Dilia, and the adventure of jumping on trains to travel the country. Most of the action took place in the 1960's and this came across really well. The characters at all of the train stations were great and really added to the whole train culture of the book.
I liked Durriken, or Duri, and really felt for him. He is independent and quick thinking. Losing his family was really dealt with well, and though he had moved on, I could still feel his loss all these years later. His relationship with Casey, his foster mother, was also touching and unwavering. Casey is great, a very protective mother and train engineer who could strike fear and respect into the hearts of her male counterparts.
Dilia has quite a different background from Duri, but also finds herself separated from her parents and on her own. She is sweet and smart, quick thinking and passionate, but there is also something a little reserved about her whole character and this is embodied in how she doesn't share her knowledge of the red queen with Duri.
The bit of romance between Durriken and Dilia was sweet and provided some great light hearted relief in the tension of the story.
Then there is the paranormal aspect to the book with the Tarie and the mysterious chess pieces. I love this paranormal edge and how it combined with the intricate chess moves to tie the book together and create something interesting on its own.
I think those looking for a different young adult book, yet one filled with mystery, suspense and action will enjoy this book.
Where to get this book:
Barnes and Noble