This book will be released on September 9, 2009. The following review is based on an advanced reader copy.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 9, 2009)
On the third night of the third month in 2003, 14-year-old Kaleb Nation had a sudden idea that began the story of Bran Hambric, a novel that would take most of his teenage years to write. Kaleb hosted his first radio show in Texas at age thirteen, and has since launched several websites, including kalebnation.com and TwilightGuy.com. Aside from writing, Kaleb enjoys creating music and blogging. A home-school graduate and a former black belt in taekwondo, he currently attends college in Texas and turned 20 in 2008.
When Bran Hambric is 6-years-old, he was found inside a sealed bank vault. Bran doesn't remember how he got in the vault - he doesn't seem able to remember anything about his life before the vault. The only clue that lead to his identity was a torn piece of paper found with him, which stated: "Bran Hambric, born June 17."
The head of the bank, Sewey Wilomas, is the person who found Bran. Because of the "finder's keepers" law, Sewey took the little boy home to live with his family. This may all seem well and good, the Wilomas family turns out to be the most self-centered, fanatical family I have ever seen! Bran ends up living in the attic and becomes the servant of the family (this part reminded me of Harry Potter and the Dursleys).
The Wilomas family lives in the City of Dunce, a town where magic and magical creatures have been outlawed, especially gnomes. The slightest mention of magic or mages - people who practice magic - can result in imprisonment. Late one night, Sewey and Bran are keeping watch on the roof for possible burglars and gnomes, when they are attacked by a creature who refers to himself as Shambles. Shambles has been sent on a mission to kidnap Bran, and during his attempt he mentions the name Emry Hambric, Bran's mother. This is the first Bran has heard anything about his past.
This encounter opens a whole new world to Bran when he learns he is a mage. His mother helped create something called the Farfield Curse, a curse known to be powerful but hasn't been spoken of for the past eight years. The mages who helped create the Curse are now after Bran, for he is the only one that can awaken the horrible power that can unleash this Curse. Bran must stop at nothing to prevent this Curse from occurring.
I think my favorite parts of Bran Hambric are the antics of Sewey and his obnoxious family. This book was entertaining, but the writing was simplistic and it left many holes in the plot, which I hope are filled in and answered in future sequels. For a book written by a high school student, it does show great promise and I would recommend this book to other children and young adults.