#157 – James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra by Colm McElwain

 5 Stars

Back Cover:  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.

James Clyde has a rather eccentric grandfather.  Wilmore Clyde lives in a large home far back from the road.  Inside are twelve suits of armor, lined up along one hallway.  The house, or rather mansion, has multiple hallways that have taken James and his two friends, Ben and Mary Forester, years to explore during their Christmas stays with Wilmore.

James, now eleven, visits one last Christmas; the Christmas his grandfather is murdered by a strange and sinister man dressed in black.  The kids must escape before the man and his bloodthirsty army kills them.  Wilmore, lying near death, hands James a large and shiny diamond, telling him to keep it safe. The diamond will grant James one wish, which he uses to fly himself and his friends to safety.

James, now separated from his friends, finds himself in Orchestra.  He is greeted by Grampian, leader of the orchins of Orchestra and an orchin himself.  Grampian is a little man with mysterious powers who appears to help James and his friends reach their destination.

An old prophesy claims James is the one who will save Orchestra.  He is the missing King of Orchestra.  The evil queen of Darken has tried to conquer Orchestra since the days of James’ birth, eleven years ago.

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra has some twists and turns, yet is easy to follow.  Despite its theme of murder and war, there is relatively little violence.  Mysterious happenings and abilities roll out logically and the story unfolds with many surprises.  For instance, Wilmore Clyde, the bloodied man who left James at an orphanage, is not his real grandfather.  Who the man really is, is as surprising as everything else that occurs in Orchestra.

A middle grade book, James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is for more advanced readers.  The Irish author has written a marvelous debut tale of two distinct worlds, both vividly portrayed.  Because James Clyde’s back-story is deftly crafted, kids will finish the 240-page adventure with ease.

Orchestra, James Clyde’s ancestral home, is a contrast of light and dark; good and evil.  Thanks to the rich narration and exciting dialogue, putting the book down is difficult.

I do not generally like these types of novels.  I get bored with the disbelief one must suspend to enjoy the story.  James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra held my attention from the first page to the last.  I think boys will enjoy this more than girls will, but it is not a “boy’s book.”

Without the wide leaps one must take in most fantasy fiction, it is easy to stay with the story.   The strong characters, from the psychic in the mall to the orchins in Orchestra, will delight fans of the genre.

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra  begs for a sequel or series of James Clyde adventures.  If written as carefully as this one, future volumes will be as wonderful, amusing, amazing, and enchanting as the original.

*There is a seven-chapter excerpt at Amazon.com

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James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra

Author: Colm McElwain  bio  facebook   PR
Publisher: Troubador Publishing  website
Publication Date:  January 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-78088-069-3
Number of Pages: 240
Ages: 10 to 15
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Also available as an eBook: 978-1-78088-867-5
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