Steve is a dear friend who reads and reviews books over at ‘Book to the Future’. I’ve grown quite fond of his book reviews and follow his recommendations, quite religiously. One day while chatting, he sent me a photo of the review copy of ‘The Lyon’s Orphanage’ that he had just received then. During the talk, he told me how he enjoyed reading the book which had a rather unique storyline.
When I read the synopsis, something made me feel warm inside like the hug of a pillow on a cold winter morning. Being associated with an orphanage for many years now, I felt an instant connect. I have been around the place long enough and am much aware of the challenges one faces in running such institutions. Thus, I knew I had to read the book.
Fast forward to a few weeks later, and imagine my excitement when author Charlie King’s email popped into my face as I opened my inbox. He wrote to me asking if I’d like to review his book. What a stroke of luck! Charlie was kind enough to send me a copy all the way to India. Now I only had to begin.
Here’s the review.
Sam Watkins is a 13-year-old orphan at The Lyon’s Orphanage. But he’s different. Sam can read people’s minds, only that he can’t read Howard Lyon’s mind, the owner of the orphanage. Mr. Lyon has a very kind disposition towards Sam; he even encourages him to read books, a lot. Only, he doesn’t ever want Sam to leave the orphanage, for reasons known to none.
Sam and his twin friends, Gareth and Natasha, through their secret ventures to Mr. Lyon’s office uncover certain secrets that depict a rather grim future for the orphanage and don’t make Mr. Lyon seem the gentleman he pretends. With the help of his assistant Natalie and his brother, Mr. Nicholas Lyons, Sam is on his way to save the orphanage from the ill-fated plot.
Soon Sam is venturing into grounds that are beyond his control and perhaps, Mr. Lyons has something really sinister planned for Sam now that he knows the truth. There are more than just one life at risk and more than just one secret to being revealed. But will Sam find it in himself to face the facts he is about to discover?
What I liked about the book:
I have never really read books around orphanages. The trails and tribulations involved in running such institutions are not much talked of nor written about. Thus, the challenges that the orphanage faces around basics such as food, maintenance, plumbing, renovation, to make it a place worth any other, have been well elucidated.
The characters play the heart of this book, especially Sam. The 13-year-olds are way too mature for their age and the reader gets a clear peek into the plot through their demonstrations. The gap between them coming up with a plan and executing them is about split second, that’s just how determined they are. In many instances, the trio reminded me of the trio from Harry Potter where the 3 take it upon themselves to rid the world around them of all possible horrors.
The story is fast-paced, well-thought out, written in a fashion that doesn’t get one bored, and you keep asking yourself – what now? The twists and turns impart the story the breaks it needs to keep the excitement high at all times.
What could be better:
The dialogues are spilling plenty. Places that could do with descriptions have also been pushed into the interchange of conversation. After a point, the reader knows what the character is thinking or is going to do so that needn’t be spoken out so much. But then perhaps, the author likes his characters super-communicative.
In a nutshell, for a debut novel, this is some really great work. I have read quite many debut authors, and most fail to deliver a piece worth a reader’s time and that leaves me skeptical about pursuing debut novels. The Lyon’s Orphanage, however, is just as entertaining as it promises. Charlie King has done a remarkable job with this one. A book worth a try. You can buy the book here.
If you happen to read ‘The Lyon’s Orphanage’ or have already read it, do share your thoughts below.