Reviews for Hound of Rowan
Booklist Reviews 2007 September #1
In a hidden alcove within Chicago's Art Institute, Max McDaniels discovers a faded tapestry. As he watches, the tapestry begins to glow; soon after, he receives an invitation to attend a private boarding school in New England. When he arrives at Rowan Academy, where young people with Potential are trained to fight an unnamed enemy, he and the other apprentices are housed in magically morphing rooms and assigned animal charges. Max is paired with the last lymrill in the world, a nocturnal creature with metallic quills. They train on the Course, where they experience different scenarios as they try to achieve a goal and move up levels as they progress. Meanwhile, apprentices and even some full-fledged agents are disappearing all over the world. This novel's sprawling, quirky boarding school has obvious parallels to Hogwarts, but Neff's storytelling boasts charms of its own, and U.S. readers may appreciate that this magical adventure, the first installment in the planned Tapestry series, takes place here rather than abroad. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
His phantasmagoric vision admits Max to Rowan Academy, a boarding school that trains children with magical Potential to fight evil. Max's startling talent pales only in comparison to that of his roommate; together they uncover a plot to revive an ancient threat. Despite an over-reliance on formula, Neff's stylish prose, deft characterization, and synthesis of Celtic myth make for spellbinding storytelling. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 September #1
When Max McDaniels has a peculiar run-in with an ancient Celtic tapestry, it's not long before he receives a letter of invitation to the mysterious Rowan Academy. It seems that Max carries a bit of old magic in his veins and at Rowan he has a chance to improve such skills within a rigorous academic program. Still, all is not right with the world outside the school. Dark and nasty forces have already kidnapped other potential students and are threatening to come within the boundaries of Rowan to wreak havoc. With his roommate David, a boy of unnaturally powerful talents, Max discovers that the ancient demon Astorath may not be as dead as everyone says and that someone within the academy is a traitor. Comparisons to Harry Potter are inevitable and unfortunate. Though the similarities are often shocking, this title has its own particular tone and flavor. Neff's language is often evocative, incorporating Irish myths like the legend of Cuchulain. Though the scenery feels familiar, the book will connect with its audience. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 March
Gr 5-8-- Twelve-year-old Max's life changes dramatically after a vision of a tapestry scene reveals itself to him at the Art Institute of Chicago. Following a terrifying encounter with a strange woman and a series of unusual tests, he finds himself enrolled at Rowan Academy, a semisecret and definitely Hogwarts-like school for children with abilities and experiences similar to his own. It is at Rowan that Max learns about the ancient struggle between those who watch over and nurture the world and those who want to control it. As an Apprentice, First Year, Max begins to hone his mysterious magical skills and shows a particular talent for amplifying his own physical capabilities, such as running and jumping. As the school year progresses, Max must face his destiny as a key player in the struggle against evil Astaroth. Overall, this is a solid and worthwhile beginning to a new fantasy series. The book lacks fully realized secondary characters and relationships, but as this is the first in the series, there is opportunity for development. And, of course, Astaroth's reemergence promises plenty of future conflict. Parallels to J. K. Rowling's work are inescapable, but Neff's tale certainly has potential and should help ease the suffering once Harry Potter withdrawal sets in. For general purchase, particularly where fantasy is popular.--Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL [Page 207]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2007 October
After a trip to the Art Institute in Chicago, where Max discovers a tapestry that literally comes to life in front of him, he is invited to attend Rowan, a very exclusive school on the East Coast. His decision to enroll places him at the center of an ancient power struggle between good and evil. Leaving his father and a relatively safe and normal life behind, Max enters a world where things are often not as they seem. Max is paired with David, a very intelligent and gifted boy. Together they design their own room, or rather the ancient building housing the school designs it for them. They find themselves sharing a richly decorated room complete with a ceiling that somehow allows them to view the stars. It is only the first of many unusual discoveries that the new students make. With a kitchen staffed by a hag and a reformed ogre, a pet sanctuary filled with a variety of magical creatures, and a roster of classes that suggest more than just a basic academic education, Rowan continues to surprise them at every turn.Despite the obvious nods to the magic and creativity of Harry Potter, the first installment in The Tapestry series offers sufficiently unique characters and an interesting twist on an American boarding school experience to keep it from being just another knock-off. Max's intelligence and goodhearted nature give the story a solid emotional core even as the surprising twists and turns keep the pages turning. Neff's first novel is sure to draw many new fans eager to see what happens next.-Heather Hepler PLB $20.99. ISBN 978-0-375-93894-8. 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.