James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra
There is a lot to like about the story in James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra, but there are so many problems in the telling of the story that these likeable things are easily missed. It’s a familiar story: an orphan boy (James Clyde) has no idea he comes from a magical world (Orchestra), and he and his friends (Mary and Ben, also orphans) must escape the sinister beings (Dakotas, creepy red-eyed wraiths) who want both his power and the instrument of his power (diamonds!). On the very night he learns his true identity, the one person (grandfather/knight Wilmore) who can protect him and tell him his full history is killed by these sinister beings (who may be led by James’s father). There’s a wicked stepmother, a haunted forest, a magical kingdom, a creepy old mansion with hidden rooms. There’s a man in black who leads a blood-thirsty army. An army of darkness, naturally. The heroic orphan boy will save his new kingdom in his pajamas.
There is no depth to this story, alas. James and his friends are interchangeable characters, and the familiar story is more formulaic than inventive. The writing is awkward and, at times, ungrammatical. Even when, for a few pages, you get caught up in the narrative – and, in spite of the weak writing, there are times you will get caught up in the narrative – it’s hard to ignore the wooden, repetitive dialogue, the stock fantasy tropes, the uninventive names.
James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is the ideal bedtime story, so long as the person reading the story aloud smooths out the dialogue into natural cadences and injects something resembling fantasy or imagination — and, maybe, can think of more magical name for a magical kingdom.
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