Sixteen years ago, Finmere Tingewick Smith was abandoned on the steps of the Old Bailey. Under the guardianship of the austere Judge Harlequin Brown and the elderly gentlemen of Orrery House, Fin has grown up under a strange set of rules. He spends alternate years at two very different schools, and he has two, very different, best friends...and he's getting very tired of the constant lies to everyone, even his best friends, to hide the insanity of his double life.
But on his sixteenth birthday, everything changes. The Judge is killed. Fin is catapulted into an extraordinary adventure.
You know when you pick a book randomly from your shelves and start reading with little to no expectations, and then it just blows you away? You end up reading to the early hours of the morning and then telling everyone how much you absolutely loved it? Yes. That. That is what happened with The Double-Edged Sword by Sarah Silverwood. I already knew that I liked Silverwood's style of writing (thanks to her adult novels under the name Sarah Pinborough), but I wasn't sure that it would translate to a YA novel.
But it does! In spades! Silverwood writes a stunning adventure story that pays homage to both Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman via Harry Potter. We have the tale of a young boy discovering that he is way more than he originally seems, set in a London which explores the mystical qualities of a city that is also more that it seems.
Fin is a great character - at times vulnerable and sad, and at times embracing his destiny with gusto. He is adventurous and mischievous and street-smart. He is the kind of boy that Harry Potter wishes he can be. His two friends Joe and Christopher are just as fun to read about - and Silverwood also includes a female character who is sassy and easily the equal of the boys.
In The Double-Edged Sword, the world that Silverwood creates is just as important as a character as the characters themselves. The contrast between the Somewhere and the Nowhere is handled beautifully, with rules being built that I'm sure will become crucial in later volumes.
And that, I guess, is my one complaint about the novel. It is the first novel of a series and, as such, takes the time to bring the world and magic and history to life. The pacing never slowed down too much due to exposition, but there were some detailed conversations to explain what was happening that needed to be read carefully. I'm sure in future volumes Silverwood will be able to hit the ground running.
This is the start of an exciting new series that establishes YA urban fantasy in the mould of Kate Griffin and Neil Gaiman. Fin is a warm character that boys can really relate to. All in all, I recommend it wholeheartedly!