BOOK REVIEW: The Blackwell Family Secret: Guardians of Sin by Jonathon Ferrara
Book: The Blackwell Family Secret: Guardians of Sin by Jonathon Ferrara
Genre: YA Fantasy
Nicholas Blackwell can barely remember his parents, let alone what they did or who they were or the secrets they were hiding, but he remembers their murder when he was seven. In the nine years since then, he has been living within the walls and strict regulations of St. Christopher’s Academy–though admittedly trying to break out of those regulations any chance he gets. What he doesn’t know is that he has a destiny to fulfill–a destiny that has made him the target of the same murderers that killed his parents. When a mysterious serpent lures him into the woods and tricks him into eating forbidden fruit, Nicholas unknowingly unleashes the Seven Deadly Sins on the world. If he doesn’t at least attempt to contain the Sins once more, all of humanity will cease to exist as we know it.
In order to reverse the damage he’s done, he’ll have to travel into the City of Demonio and confine the Seven Guardians of Sin once again. Luckily, he has help in his friend Amy. Even though she is weirdly knowledgeable about his particular quest, and seems to know a lot more about him than their short friendship merits, he takes on demons and learns about true friendship. Eventually, he realizes his parents history, and in doing so discovers what will be his destiny, and why it is the Blackwell family secret.
This book was definitely one that got my curiosity meter jumping before I even really opened it. Guardians of Sin sounds a little ominous, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Anyways, expectations aside, once I got started I loved it. It is a fast paced YA fantasy adventure and revolves around Nicholas saving the world from the outburst of the seven deadly sins. It is definitely very grounded in the Catholic religion, but I can tell you from personal experience that though it is rare to find books that draw on a lot of religious text and teachings without being preachy–this is one of them. The religion really has a part to play in this story, and it definitely wouldn’t work without it.
I did feel like it took me a few chapters to really become drawn into the story, but it hit a stride once Nicholas and Amy set off to defeat the guardians of sin. The great thing about this book is how cohesively the character development and adventure work together. Sometimes it feels like character development is forced–it happens because it has to happen, not necessarily because it fits organically into the story–BUT not in this book. Nicholas grew and developed as a character as the plot progressed, at least partly because of the unique predicament he was in. After my sympathy for 7 year old Nicholas wore off, 16 year old Nicholas was kind of a pain in the butt, so I was pretty involved in rooting for more character development! 😛 I always maintain that a character who makes you feel anything–good or bad–is a good character, and this was no exception. And I did like him by the end of the book!
My only disappointment (SPOILER ahead) is how quickly they resolved the problem with Nicholas and Amy having a relationship. I was expecting this to be a series, and I assumed the sequel to this book would be dealing with, at least in part, how Nicholas and Amy were going to work it out. Updated to add: I did ask the author about whether the book was part of a series and was excited to hear that it is going to be part of a 4-book series. Ferrara is actually working on the second book right now, so hopefully we won’t have too long to wait!
Overall, I did really enjoy this book, and if you’re a fan of YA Fantasy, in the style of Harry Potter, or maybe Dragons in Our Midst (by Bryan Davis), you should definitely give this a try.
I really liked it: 4 out of 5 stars.
**I was sent this book for review by the author, but all opinions expressed are my own. You can see what he’s up to over at Husband and Husband