Title: Candle Man, Book One: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance
Author: Glenn Dakin
Where I got it: author
Murder, mystery, and adventure aren’t your typical birthday presents . . . But for Theo, anything that breaks up his ordinary routine is the perfect gift. A mysterious “illness” and Theo’s guardians force him into a life indoors, where gloves must be worn and daily medical treatments are the norm. When Theo discovers a suspicious package on his birthday, one person from the past will unlock the secret behind Theo’s “illness” and change his life forever. Molded into an exhilarating steampunk adventure that gives birth to the next great fantasy hero, Theo Wickland, Candle Man: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance is the first book in a trilogy by debut author Glenn Dakin
It's clear when you open Candle Man that your reading a book intended for younger kids--y'know, the ones that you secretly steal from your twelve year old brother/son/cousin/etc. and will never admit to have loved it. But you did. Man, you did.
Theo world is three rooms. The population is three people. This is all he knows.
At least, as far as he knows. Sheltered from any other life, he's only been outside of his guardian, Dr. Saint's, Empire Hall several times in his life, and each time chaperoned by his insufferably cheery butler, Mr. Nicely. Along with a def maid, these three people are the only faces Theo's ever seen. His entire existence is the epitome of boring.
Until two robbers break in to Empire Hall, and the gloves Theo wears falls off.
So, aside from my horrible summary, I really did enjoy Candle Man. Not in the way I would have liked to enjoy it, but enjoyed it nonetheless.
I think my main problem with Candle Man was the pacing--there were so many directions it could have gone, so many stories and characters I would have loved to read about that were just kind of cut off mid-sentence. I never felt like Theo or Chloe (twin sister of his maid) were real people. They had scattered personalities, that were unintentionally bipolar. One minute they're serious, the next sarcastic, the next oh-so clever...I just never felt like I knew these people. Maybe in the next volume (it says Book One, so I'm assuming there's more to come) I'll get more.
Perhaps this is another case of misleading publishers, but I had no idea where the 'steampunk' label stemmed from. Aside from the pseudo-Victorian enviorment (not really Victorian, mind you--pseudo) Candle Man had no real characteristics of a steampunk novel that I've experienced. Which, let me tell you, gave me a huge migraine, as I lurve steampunk and I picked this up eagerly awaiting some steampunk steaminess and, damnit, there was none. Gawd.
Candle Man did have it's moments--the cast of characters, while vast and (perhaps a bit too) varied were so amusing with their little quirks and inner monologues that I was just giggling to myself the whole time. I do get the feeling that Dakin intended this to be a movie (or perhaps a comic), what with the one-liners and animated scenes. Not necessarily a bad thing, but worth noting.
The plot is where Candle Man really shines--a boy who is the decedent of an old Victorian Sherlock Holmes-like character (who was ZOMG actually real). I don't consider this a spoiler because it felt as though there was no plot before this revelation, so I'm assuming it's not much meant to be a secret. Any misgivings the character development might offer is more then made up for with a unique storyline and an amazing setup. I definitely look forward to future titles in the series.
Rating: 7 out of 10--and it can only get better from here
Also: Candle Man has been compared to such children novels as Percy Jackson and Spetimus Heap:
Wouldn't really go that far, but if your looking for a young male narrator who discovers something crazay about himself, sure, why not?