***Note: I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.***The Blackwell Family Secret: The Guardians of Sin by Jonathan L. Ferrara
Genres: Christian, fantasy, paranormal
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Nicholas Blackwell has no idea he is supposed to fulfill a destiny. All he knows is that he draws trouble like a magnet. Orphaned at seven when two demonic men killed his parents, he copes with the strict rules of his new home, St. Christopher’s academy, unaware that he has been the real target for the killers and that his guardian angel has saved him in the nick of time. And now, his problems are only beginning when a mysterious serpent lures him into the woods and tricks him into a demonic ritual that will unleash the Seven Deadly Sins to destroy the humankind. Nicholas has no choice but to correct his mistake--or die trying.
Aided by Amy, a shy but determined girl who seems to know more about his task than she should, Nicholas's quest is to travel into the City of Demonio and defeat the Seven Guardians of Sin. To succeed, he must confront demons, monsters, and lost souls, learn the mysteries of the Chapel of Dreams, discover the true meaning of friendship and love, and face the darkest secret of all: the Blackwell Family Secret.
This book comes across as a madcap compilation of Alice in Wonderland and the Seven Deadly Sins.
Nicholas Blackwell stands before the Blackwell Manor with little memory of how he arrived. Knowing he has to enter the Manor, he opens the door and remembers… The book then enters into flashback mode and Nicholas is 7 again. He remembers the death of his parents and a last minute rescue that lead him to growing up in a Catholic boarding school. The book then jumps and centers on 16-year-old Nicholas.
According to Amazon, this book comes in at 230 pages. With a little math, we get approximately 57,000 words. While shorter books are becoming more common in indie books, it was an unfortunate thing in this case.
The reader is given a brilliant framework for what could have been an excellent story. Nicholas is tricked into releasing the Seven Deadly Sins back into the world. He then has to go on a quest down in the demon world to fix his mistake. Unfortunately, that’s all it is, a framework.
Nicholas isn’t the warmest of all main characters. He comes across as rude and constantly gets into trouble. He breaks all of the rules and expects his popularity, and the fact he lives full time at the school, to bail him out. While he does eventually change, for most of the book, the reader doesn’t feel all that invested in him or care about his outcome.
There are several side characters that were quite charming, mainly Amy, Theodore, and Pugdush. Pugdush is a demon who’s doing his best to become good. I do wish more time had been spent in developing these characters.
The challenges Nicholas faces are wrapped up fairly quick. While it is explained why later, it was a letdown at the time. They definitely could have been more difficult for him to achieve. I also wish more attention had been given to the Seven Deadly Sins. In this case, it would be important to focus on the intended audience and remember how much they may or may not know.
All in all, this book was an easy read. While it’s aimed at Middle Grade, I would stick to 7th grade and up. Due to the brevity and quick dealings with the Seven Deadly Sins, I don’t see this book gaining much traction above 9th grade. It sits in a fairly tight niche when it comes to readers. With more fleshing out of the story line, and more attention given to character development, this book would reach a much larger audience. The idea itself is solid.