For fans of Narnia, The Hobbit, and Percy Jackson comes the first book in the Countryside series by J.T. Cope IV.
About the Book
Title: Countryside: The Book of the Wise | Author: J.T. Cope | Publication Date: October 7, 2014 | Publisher: Tiner Publishing | Pages: 340 | Recommended Ages: 10+ | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
“You have a power within you, one that is within everyone…It’s the same power that fills that building, that keeps that tree alive…and the same power that has attracted your attention…I know it’s all a bit strange to you, but I assure you it is quite real…”
Eleven-year-old Luke Rayburn has never seen a skyline without skyscrapers or fallen asleep to anything but the sound of traffic. But his life is about to change in ways he never imagined. When his father leaves for a year of military service, Luke and the rest of his family move into their grandparents’ home in the remote town of Countryside, a place like no other. Reachable only by a mysterious traveling tunnel and horse-drawn carriage, centaurs roam the landscape and shadowy wraiths slip among the trees.
There, Luke will be drawn into a centuries-old quest for an almost-forgotten book whose secrets will determine the fate of the world. He will have to reach deep to discover the power within him as he battles the forces of darkness and an alliance of sinister men who seek to destroy any who get in their way.
Luke’s only hope is to find the book before they do, but to do so he’ll need help from someone he never expected as the forces of evil come to bear on the magical world of Countryside.
Book 2: The Tears of Adina now Available!
My Thoughts: Ten year-old Luke Rayburn’s life is about to be turned upside-down when he begins to hear voices inside his head and encounters strange men draped in shadows seeking the “Book of the Wise”. Fearing for Luke’s safety, his parents decide that the family will go live with Grandma and Grandpa Rayburn in a town called Countryside; while Luke’s father goes to work elsewhere. As danger lurks nearby, Luke and his siblings will soon discover another world they never knew existed: Countryside.
After the Rayburn family makes the trip through a gateway known as the “traveling tunnel”, they emerge in a magical world filled with sprawling meadows, expansive forests, and rolling hills; where horses and carriages are the main means of transportation; where dryads, centaurs, angels, as well as many dark creatures such as wraiths, soulless vampire-like beings, and werewolves dwell; and, where Southern charm abounds. And, that’s just Countryside! Then, there is the Rayburn family home, Ashamun, which hides secrets of its own.
As Luke adjusts to his new life in Countryside, the reader is introduced to a large cast of characters including Luke’s uncle Landon, several of the townsfolk such as Quentin Acharon, James (whose last name I couldn’t find), Jeremiah Roberts, as well as several more minor characters; and, the sinister characters, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Jefferson. There are also a significant number of children introduced in the book including Luke’s four siblings (Trent, Amy, Jon, and Jodi), four school children whom Luke befriends (Matt, Samantha, Marti, and Jennifer), and the school bully Jon David. The character development is superb as the relationships among the characters evolve throughout the story. One problem I did encounter was that in some cases, characters were referred to by their first name (e.g., Quentin) while in other cases, by their last name (e.g., Mr. Acharon). As a result, I did get confused a few times in the story.
The story itself centers around the main character Luke and his destiny: to find the Book of the Wise written by the “Remnants”, (i.e., the descendants of “The Ancients”) and to decipher the Prophecy of the Bloodstar contained within its pages. The author weaves a complex and engaging tale filled with plot turns and twists set within the charming world of Countryside. The comparison to the Harry Potter series is inevitable and the parallels with regards to characters, setting, and plot are evident. Luke (Harry) befriends Matt and Samantha (Ron and Hermione) as well as Marti and Jennifer (Neville and Luna). Luke gets whisked away to magical Countryside (Harry goes to Hogwarts). There are lengthy scenes describing football in Countryside (quidditch anyone?). There are several dark characters that are somewhat similar to some of Rowling’s, such the Lost Ones/Soulless (dementors?) and the master (Voldemort?). And then there are the prophecies which are a key plot point in each story. My intention in drawing the comparison between the stories is not to suggest that this is a bad thing; but, rather to suggest that those who enjoyed the Harry Potter series may enjoy the Countryside series as well!
There is one more issue I have to bring up. There are two incidents of violence perpetrated by an adult against a child. In one case, Quentin (the Rayburn family’s estate manager) strikes Luke across the head when Luke is disrespectful toward Samantha. In the second incident, Luke’s father spanks his brother Trent after he crawled into his bed and refused to move. Neither of these incidents are expanded upon greatly and are mostly just mentioned in passing, but the two passages did make me cringe as most middle grade books that I’ve read do not usually include references to this type of discipline.
My Bottom Line: Countryside: The Book of the Wise is a heart-thumping, adventure-filled page turner, steeped in magical realism and written for a middle grade audience. In a style reminiscent of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the reader is transported to the charming, magical world of Countryside along with the main character, Luke Rayburn, who learns that he comes from a long line of stewards protecting the land from dark forces. The plot twists and turns will keep middle grade readers on the edge of their seat as Luke embarks on a quest to find the Book of the Wise containing the key to the fate of the world. I highly recommend this book to children ages 10 years and older who are fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or The Chronicles of Narnia.
* This book was provided to us by the author through our Editorial Review service in exchange for our honest review. All opinions expressed are our own. *
More Buzz About the Book
“… exceptionally well written … very highly recommended for school and community library collections.” – Midwest Book Review
“… fast-paced and thrilling … great storytelling to keep the pages turning.” – Jennifer Melville, San Francisco Book Review
“… Cope imbues the novel’s familiar [magical] elements with atmosphere and charm, making for an engaging read.” – Publishers Weekly
“… laced with magic … a potentially vast magical world.” – Kirkus Reviews
About the Author: J.T. Cope IV
J.T. Cope IV was born in Texas, and grew up in the small farming community of Wheelock, living on land that had been in the family for over a century. In 2002 J.T. graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana with a bachelor’s degree in physics. This college was also where J.T. met his beautiful wife, Katie. He joined the United States Marine Corps in January 2003 and was married to Katie in July of that same year. In 2006 he returned from Iraq and in a small table in the back of a local coffee shop, on a cold and rainy day took down the first notes and ideas for his Countryside Series. In November 2006, J.T and Katie moved back to Fort Worth, Texas where J.T. pursued a master’s in geology at The University of Texas in Arlington. As a geologist, J.T. spent much of his time visiting drilling rigs, and picking through rocks brought up form two miles below the surface. Over the next couple years, he completed and published the first book in the Countryside Series. He now lives in Texas with his wife and three daughters.
*** GIVEAWAY ***
Prize: One winner (US only) will receive a signed, print copy of Countryside: The Book of the Wise by J.T. Cope IV. One winner (Canada & Internationally) will receive an electronic copy (Kindle) of the book.
Giveaway ends: September 27, 11:59 pm, 2015
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, J.T. Cope IV and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.