Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt

The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt (Hartlandia, #1)Title: The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt
Series: Hartlandia #1
Author: Ilana Waters
Publisher: Self Published
Published: August 10, 2012
Genre: Children's-Middle Grade
Format: Kindle
Pages: 244
Source: Received from author
Read:  February 23-25, 2013
In A Few Words: Questions authority
My Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Ten-year-old Stanley Delacourt loves his quiet life in the peaceful village of Meadowwood. At least, he does until his best friend is killed. Then the town library—where Stanley lives and works—is burned to the ground. The individuals responsible for both tragedies are a nasty group of soldiers. They work for the kingdom’s new leader, Christopher Siren. With the grown-ups too fearful to take action, Stanley vows to confront Siren. He plans to get answers and demand justice. Little does he know that his journey will involve sword-wielding knights, kidnapper fairies, and dark magic.

Stanley has only two allies back home: a witch named Meredith, and a young apothecary called Sophie. Can they help him discover the reason behind Siren’s crimes and end this terrible reign? Or is Stanley set to become the next victim in the tyrant’s evil plot?

Melissa's Musings:

This is a great adventure story. It begins with Stanley's work in the library, so I was instantly hooked, just based on that alone. There aren't enough stories that prominently feature libraries, so this was such a refreshing change.

The setting and language of the story is wonderful. It's easygoing, and comfortable. As I read I was immediately able to fall into Meadowood and imagine myself there, right along with the characters. The setting seemed like a mix of olden times (think medieval times) and more modern times.

The story starts out simply enough, Stanley, Sophie and Will enjoying a boat race together and a festival, but you can tell that there's something going on by the odd soldiers milling around. Then, when Will is killed after being out after "curfew" and then the library is burned down, Stanley knows he has to do something. He sets off on a quest to find out who the new ruler in place, Christopher Siren is, and what happened to the old king and queen. 

He faces a lot of trials and tribulations along the way. He also runs into all different kinds of magical creatures. There are subtle elements of magic throughout the story, right down to the very boots that Stanley is wearing. There's talk of vampires and vampire wars, witches, fairies, and much more. 

The magical element is perfect. It's done with just enough detail to keep the reader interested, but not so much as to overwhelm them. Sophie finding out she is a witch is also very fitting, given that she already has a job as an apothecary, and likes to write poems, it seems quite the natural fit that she becomes a witch. I particularly enjoyed the spin of her spells coming to her in her sleep, and her thinking of them more as poems than anything.

As Stanley gets further on in his journey, he is kidnapped and forced to work in one of Siren's factories, where several kids are nothing more than glorified paper pushers. Literally, they put papers into boxes. And they don't question it. They don't want anything more for themselves but to earn shiny metal discs and the promise of a better position if they earn enough of them.

At first Stanley tries to resist this, and tries to ask the others about their dreams, and whether they know that they are being forced to do these things for nothing, and give up on what they really believe in. But after an incident he too becomes numb and just goes along. You later find out that Hartlandia is under a spell. I thought this was a great way to demonstrate the fact that children should learn and think for themselves. They should question authority and not just do everything they are told. The story also demonstrates how easy it can be for kids to just forget about their dreams and "go along" if they are restricted enough.

This story is the perfect combination of magic, adventure, friendship, and the trials and tribulations of growing up. I can't wait to see what comes next in Stanley's adventure. I'd recommend this to lovers of magic, libraries, and easygoing characters/settings.


Ilana Waters said...

Thank you so much, Melissa, for having me on your blog. I'm overjoyed you liked my story! Your kind words mean so much. Look for the publication of Book II of Hartlandia later this year--and more of Stanley and Sophie's adventures!

Melissas Midnight Musings said...

Thank you again, Ilana, for the chance to read this. I'm looking forward to Book II!