In the first installment in The Discoveries of Arthur Grey series, The Society’s Traitor, V.K. Finnish tells the tale of an inquisitive eleven-year-old who takes a magical trip into a world where people search for the truth behind myths and legends.
The prologue opens with a scene steeped in the realm of fantasy: a group of children is gathered around a fireplace waiting to hear the story of Amr’s Name Gift; there are intriguing references to sword-fighting classes, a mysterious entity known as a Fetch, and an event called the Pulling of the Sword. Fantasy-loving young readers will be hooked from page one, waiting eagerly to unlock the secrets of this world.
In chapter one readers meet Arthur, who lives in Ivor Mansion in Maizegrove, Wisconsin, with his grandmother. A bit of a misfit, he spends his recess time with his friend Penelope acting out Robin Hood and collecting things in pouches on his leather belt. The mansion is said to be home to a secret treasure hidden when its previous tenant went crazy, but no one’s been able to locate it.
Arthur leads the somewhat reluctant Penelope on a treasure hunt using clues he finds around the manor. At each step he meets her doubts with optimism, always willing to believe in the fantastic realm encountered in the prologue. Chapter by chapter, readers witness his feeling unwanted until, eventually, Arthur finds where he fits in—a place that seems at once closer and farther from reality.
Fantasy devotees will feel at home in this story as it features just the right amount of the genre’s conventions. And imaginative young readers who feel lonely and out of touch with the so-called real world concerns of their peers will see themselves reflected in Arthur as he delves deeper into the search for truth.
Finnish’s storytelling is brilliantly crisp. The dialogue has an old-fashioned sensibility that easily transports readers to a faraway place without confusing them: for example, “How came you by this news?” Chapter openers feature appealing gray-scale drawings, and the ending leaves readers yearning for the second book in the series.
Kids will love this little boy’s larger-than-life adventures. This novel is ideal for fourth through sixth grade readers—kids who can handle a longer book with fairly heavy text pages.