Title: The Elf of Luxembourg
Author: Tom Weston
Source: Author for review
Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge
First Sentence: "'Steady, Belle, steady,' cried Emile Fradin to one of the cows as it stumbled."
Summary (From back of book):
The thing about El Dorado is... No, forget that. The thing about younger sisters is...
What's an older sister to do? It's not all fun fairs and ice-cream. Well, it is -- but that's beside the point. When one is in Luxembourg, there is a certain standard to maintain, and vacationing with Elves and Vampires is just so old school. But can Alex convince her younger sister, Jackie, of that? No, of course not, so she may as well get used to it.
But deep beneath the ancient city of Luxembourg there lies a secret. The Vampires believe it is protected by the Elf. The Elf believes it is protected by the prophecy concerning Alex and Jackie. And the sisters? They believe shoes in Luxembourg are too expensive.
Why are the Vampires going toe-to-toe with an Elf for the pleasure of the sisters' company? Why does the Elf think Alex and Jackie can sing? And just who let Sir Walter Raleigh and the Conquistadors into this story?
To answer these questions will take all of the sisters' cunning, bravery and imagination, as well as some souvenir shopping.
My Two Cents:
This book had a great concept, a lot of research behind it and some really shining moments. It is, however, one of those books that could have used a little something more.
Weston has some great, interesting ideas here. He's got ancient guardian elves and spoiled-child vampires. He's got Conquistadors searching for El Dorado. He's got two sisters who just want to have fun on their trip, but who get caught up in a centuries-old battle because, inexplicably, their names are included in an old carving. And, he's got a lot of research and knowledge behind him about Luxembourg and the quest for El Dorado.
The problem for me was there were just too many ideas in here for them to be developed to my liking. I think this book could either have been split into two separate books or have been longer than its 290 pages and the ideas would have come together more fully. As it was, we only got what I would call the "primary" conflict -- between the Elf and the Vampires -- for about 30 pages.
Alex and Jackie were what I would consider pretty typical teenagers. Weston wrote them pretty true-to-life, which isn't an easy task for an adult male author. I wasn't exactly a fan of either of the sisters, but they were well-written.
There also are a lot of places where the grammar isn't quite solid or a homonym is exchanged for the word that's supposed to be there, and this is where this book could've used some extra editing. Those mistakes were pretty distracting to me, but I'm more overly sensitive to grammatical errors than a lot of people.
This wasn't an "ohmygosh this is a book I can't wait to finish" book, but it was pretty solid on the whole. If you like some history mixed in with your fiction (For example, Weston gives the reader the history of several of Luxembourg's summer street festivals), or if you like traditional mythological beings looked at in new ways, you might want to give this one a try.
About the author:
Originally from England, Tom now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Before turning his hand to fiction, Tom had a successful career as the CEO of a consulting company, conference speaker and writer of industry articles and business books. His novel, First Night, set in Boston during the New Year’s Eve festival, introduced the unlikely heroines, Alex and Jackie, and the ghost of a 17th century Puritan named Sarah Pemberton. First Night won an Honorable Mention in the Middle-Grade/Young Adult category, in the Writers Digest 17th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards. The sequel to First Night, called The Elf of Luxembourg, was published in January, 2010. As with First Night, The Elf of Luxembourg is also a supernatural mystery, with a blend of humor and history that has become Tom’s trademark. Tom is currently working on Book 3 of the Alex and Jackie Adventures, and is researching the background material for the story, which will be set in Ireland. Tom has also written the screenplay, Fission, based on the true story of scientist, Lisa Meitner, and the race for the atomic bomb, and which was named a finalist at the London Independent Film Festival.