Hello there, guys and dolls. I’m going to do something a little different today. I’m going to talk to you about Countryside: The Book of the Wise, by J.T. Cope IV.
Countryside is a book written for ages 9-12, according to Amazon. Personally, I’d stretch that range to about 14. Also, do not judge me, because I know all of you heifers read Harry Potter into your old age-ness.
Countryside is about an 11-year-old boy named Luke Rayburn. Strange things start happening to Luke about the time his father is requisitioned to go overseas. This is the catalyst for Luke, his mother, and his four siblings to go live with Luke’s grandparents in Countryside. Countryside (the place in the book, not the book itself) is equal parts Narnia and Hogwarts. The atmosphere and aesthetics of Countryside are reminiscent of that of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series (a little cowboy/western, a little medieval high fantasy).
Before I get any further, I want to say that if you (or an age appropriate person you know) picks this book up, skip the prologue. Not only is the prologue confusing, but the information it contains is in the body of the book and explained with much more clarity. Now, the first ¼ or so of the story is a bit slow. In my opinion, too much time is spent building up to the journey to Countryside (and even the catalyst that drives the family there). There is a good deal of unnecessary info to wade through and it could stand to be cut down so that the focus is primarily on Luke’s relationship with his father.
Now, once we get to Countryside? Whole different story. When Luke arrives in Countryside, the pacing is faster and there is this hint of mystery that’s fun to unravel as you go. It’s easy to get more invested in the characters of Countryside, as well as Luke’s relationship with them. Readers can more clearly feel the bonds he’s making and relate to his struggles (being an outsider, being bullied). The story hits all the major tropes of a fantasy for youngsters.
The description of Countryside is written in such a way that it feels like you’re there, walking down Main Street or Hanover with Luke and his friends. While the dialogue can, at times, get a bit expositional, it’s believable for the most part. The further along you get in the story, the more engaging it is overall.
I would have no problem recommending this to one of my nieces.
Let’s face it. You might not trust me, se head over to Goodreads to learn more about Luke’s adventures in Countryside.
Of course, if you do trust me (shut up, Dave, I heard that!) then check Countryside: The Book of the Wise on Amazon.