Monday, May 21, 2012

The Doorknob Society by MJ Fletcher

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): Chloe Masters’s world changed in a heartbeat - and all she did was touch a doorknob.

When she was young Chloe’s mother vanished. Wracked by feelings of abandonment and anger she lost herself traveling with her father's magic act, where illusions were part of her everyday life. Yet everything changes when they are pursued by a mysterious man in black out to kill her father. Touching a doorknob activates abilities she never knew she had and she finds herself thrust into a world of ancient societies and secrets.

When her father disappears it is a race against time to find answers before she loses what is left of her family. Now Chloe must choose who to trust, the man who will do anything for her or the one she can’t stop thinking about.

 And here's what I thought:   I thought this was an interesting story, with descriptive writing, quick pacing, well-written characters, and a nice mix of magic and suspense.

I really enjoyed how the author gives us a main character who is smart, thinks quickly on her feet, and keeps her wits about her.  And .... her physical description is not a major element of the story.  That might sound odd, but think about some of the female characters you've read about in other stories; are they pretty, and smart, and talented ... and pretty?   Chloe is described just enough that I have a vague idea of what she looks like, but I never got the impression that being pretty is a major part of who she is --- and it doesn't have any impact on the story, or how she interacts with other characters.  Instead, there is an emphasis on how smart she is, and how street-smart she is --- and she's not perfect.  She's got a bit of a smart mouth, which can get her into trouble .... but she never checks herself first, thinking, what would a boy think if I say this.   While there is a bit of romantic intrigue with two male characters, her actions are not driven by those relationships -- and I found this refreshing.

The book does have a fairly even pace, which quickens once Chloe realizes that there's more to her father, and her family, than she originally thought.   She also begins to discover why it is that when she grasps a doorknob in her hand, especially when she's in danger, that her stomach churns and the world seems to spin.   Once she starts classes at Paladin Academy, she learns that there is Doorknob Society, a group where people have the ability to use doors to travel interdimensionally.   And that's just the beginning ....

I think the author did a great job of setting up this first book, with an intriguing concept and storyline, and characters that I quickly connected to (and not just Chloe, but some of the supporting characters, as well).  Chloe is pretty consistent throughout the story, even as she's learning about the Society, and then searching for her father --- which I liked.  What I mean is: Chloe is consistently herself --- there's not a point where she's smart, and handling herself just fine, and then, suddenly, in the face of danger, collapses and turns to a male character for help (I call this Bond Girl syndrome, after what happens in so many of the older James Bond films).   I also liked how the author created the Paladin Academy --- it's got some Hogwarts-esque elements that it feel like a familiar place, but enough different elements to it that it stands on its own -- and takes things in a different direction.  I don't want a reader thinking this is a Harry Potter knockoff story --- it's totally not.  However, if you liked these things about the Harry Potter books:  unusual magic, strong friendships, and daring adventures -- then I believe you'll really enjoy this story, as well.    I'm already looking forward to starting the second book, The Impossible Engineers.

This book is the first in a series of five.  If you'd like to check it out, please visit GoodReads --- and stay tuned for my interview with author MJ Fletcher, tomorrow!

First lines:  "This is a dumb idea," I said more for my own benefit than anyone else's.  It's not as if someone could hear me from where I stood...on the ledge of a building in Paris at three o'clock in the morning.   I moved quickly along the edge, a stiff breeze suddenly whipping up and shoving me against the cool stones.  My palms hit flat against the building while my fingers deftly searched for grooves in the stonework.  It was a narrow hold, but I held tight until the wind died down.  I snuck a glance over the edge to the street five stories below.  Tomorrow's headlines flashed in mind, Sixteen-Year-Old American Plunges To Her Death."

Thoughts on the cover:  Well-suited to the story, it gives us an idea of our main character, a bit of magic, and the definitely gets across the theme of opening doors.

Information about the author:  If you'd like to read more about MJ Fletcher, this book and the series, please visit the author's website.

Thanks very much to Pump Up Your Book publicity for sending me an invitation to read and review this book!


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