Even before chapter 5 of my new book, The Bell Between Worlds, the characters are gripping and the story line already capturing. When I first heard the book was going to be similar to Harry Potter I wondered how the author would manage to do it as well as JK Rowling's books. I thought that the magical world of Harry Potter had already been done and could not work as well again. Now I've read the book I can rest assured Ian Johnstone managed.
I like the authors style of placing a lot of questions and mysteries at the beginning of the book which engages you and makes you want to read on and discover the answers.
The history of The Other (which is the magical world) is extremely deep. It makes you feel as if every character has a vivid past of which you can only scratch the surface. In this way The Bell Between Worlds is similar to Tolkien's Middle Earth where middle earth seems to have been going on thousands of years before Bilbo Baggins or Frodo and even when the mission has been completed it feels as if they have a long future and hard times to come. This differs to C. S. Lewis' world Narnia as even though there is a recognisable gap of significant time between each book there is a book which tells us about the beginning and a book which tells us about the end and this makes the history span seem less. In contrast to all of these Harry Potter seems to have quite a recent history which only starts at the time of Voldemort.
In The Bell Between Worlds, the main character Sylas Tate seems to have a mission in which he has to save the world, likewise Frodo is on his mission to save his world. I like these kinds of characters because from the world's perspective they are not super heroes. Sylas Tate is a young boy and Frodo is only about knee height and likes food (not exactly your idea of saviours of the world). It gives you a sense that ordinary people can make a difference, maybe not on such a large scale, but you feel able to give it a try. Ordinary people have been heroes like Sylas Tate and have saved the world in their own right but not all of them have been remembered.
Another reason I like Ian Johnstone's book is the whole idea that the other world reflects ours and that different famous landmarks are in the same places in each world and that the people themselves could be reflected and yet somehow be different. It is interesting how the other world is greener and fresher and somehow more alive because they do not have factories and their magic works with nature whereas in Thoth's cities he is changing the other, he has stolen ideas from our world and looks set to destroy everything.
The first book ends answering some of the questions - leaving you wanting to read the next book in the trilogy so that you can find out more about Sylas and who he is. Frustratingly this is the longest I've had to wait for a book, before I have had brief breaks in-between series but the books have always been on the shelf for me to pick up later but this time I physically can't as it hasn't been published yet.