James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra by Colm McElwain
(I took this summary from the back cover of the book.) "As an infant, James Clyde was deposited at a children's home by his wounded, blood-soaked grandfather. As a result, he grows up under a cloud of mystery. Eleven years later when he hears about his strange past, he vows to uncover the truth. But before he can, his grandfather hands him a magical and mysterious diamond of Orchestra. With the aid of his friends, Ben and Mary Forester, James must protect the diamond from evil forces. Soon, however, their lives are in grave danger. They are being hunted by a sinister man dressed in black and his blood-thirsty army. Outnumbered, James finds he must use the power of the diamond to escape their clutches--or become another victim of their murderous quest. So begins a journey that will transport them to an alternative world where they must confront the mysterious man in black for a final, winner-takes-all battle..."
First of all I must say.....do not judge this book by its cover. The cover looks very cheesy and childish. The story, however, is very different. I think this book needs a new cover. After I finished it, I handed it to my 11-year-old son. He's read everything, so I was excited to give him something different to read. He took one look at it and rolled his eyes. I told him it was good and to give it a chance. About three hours later he brought it back and said he was finished, and it was, "Awesome!" I enjoyed the story. I liked James and thought he was a likable character. I liked Mary and Ben as well. I liked the mysterious grandfather, but wished I had known more about him in the beginning. You learn more about him as the story goes on, but some of that info. would have been good to know earlier. The kids in the story sometimes act their ages, but sometimes act a little too old. They are a little too brave in some circumstances, but it is fantasy. The transition from one place to another was well done. I definitely wish I would have known more about Orchestra and the diamonds, but I think we learn more as we go along. This book has some mystery, some action, some fun, some villains, some heroes, some sacrifice, some fighting, some flying, and some surprises. It is a little predictable in places, but is surprising in others. I thought it was creative and different.
There are some spelling and grammatical errors, and it could have used maybe a little more editing. The grandfather could have used more development, along with why he didn't keep James with him full time. There were two swear words, and some fighting violence. There are a couple of gruesome murders. Overall, I liked the story. My 11-year-old son loved it.
Rating: PG+ (Two swear words, fighting violence, and two gruesome murders, along with fighting)
Recommendation: Third or Fourth Grade and up (The violence is no worse than Harry Potter, so if your child read Harry Potter in third grade, like mine did, then this will be fine in third grade. However, there are those swear words, so be aware of that.)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.