The last few years James Patterson has turned into a publishing machine with six or more each year, most co-written with other writers. They are in his style, short chapters, changing points of view. I admit a fondness for some of his series(Alex Cross, Maximum Ride, Women’s Murder Club), but have shied away from the standalones. A couple I read were pretty bad, kind of killing my desire to read anymore.

I didn’t know what I’d find with this one, the first book in a new fantasy series. I was pleasantly surprised and it looks like I will be adding new entries here to my reading list. It has elements of fantasy mixed with the real world, as does the Maximum Ride series.

The New Order took over the world by guile. They spent years slipping people into key positions, by local elections, until the time they started sweeping big elections. Once in power, they started gutting old laws and instituting their own to consolidate and hold onto their power. They ban all books, music, movies, that disagree with their overall philosphy that they are all powerful and nothing else will be allowed.

Officials had titles like The One Who Judges, The One Who Investigates, that sort of thing. And over them all was THE ONE WHO IS THE ONE.

The story gets off with a bang as siblings Whit and Wisty Allgood, seventeen and fifteen, are about to be hung for witchcraft. Whit was charged as a wizard and Wisty as a witch. They’d been through a sham trial and thrown into a prison designed to muffle their powers of witchcraft.

Then the story backs up to tell how things had arrived to this point.

In the middle of the night, the Allgood home had been raided by the N.O. forces and the siblings arrested for the aforementioned charges. Of which they thought the N.O. was crazy. They were just two ordinary kids.

Allowed to take one personal thing from home, their parents had insisted on a battered wooden drumstick for Wisty and a blank journal for Whitt.

Once in prison, the pair start to realize they were more than they had thought. They remember things their parents had taught them as they were growing and it starts to make sense. The two personal items are more than they appear also.

The prison was full of children arrested for the same thing: kids as young as four or five and up. Torture and beatings happen as Whitt and Wisty discover they do have powers that they have no control over yet. They come and go and the blanketing effect of the prison doesn’t seem to work on them.

Wisty can flame on(ala the Human Torch), hurl bolts of lightning, float, change peple into animals. Whitt can reach a realm called the Shadowland, where he finds his girl friend, Celia, who’d disappeared the year. She’s a half-light, dead and inhabiting Shadowland.

Celia helps them escape into Shadowland through a portal(only curves can use them; straights are locked out). But they can’t stay there. The Lost ones roam there and feast on the living, drawing the heat from them until they die. The time in Shadowland is different from their world. Another human helps them escape into Freeworld and, though he was only there for a couple of hours, forty-three days had passed in the real world. Just as easily, one could enter Shadowland through one of the portals and emerge hours before he entered.

Once out, among the children of Freeland. Whitt and Wisty start to learn what’s going on. THE ONE WHO IS THE ONE rules the Overworld, most of it. The Underworld consists of Shadowland and other dimensions. His desire is to be lord of all. Their parents had apparently escaped as there were warrants out for them and a large reward offered.

Also, there is a prophecy that two siblings, with enormous powers, will lead an army of children to free the world. THE ONE WHO IS THE ONE is afraid of them!

The ending definitely leaves it open for more, even if we didn’t know it was a new series.

I don’t know exactly how much Patterson writes of these “co-authored” books, but, for me anyway, this one shows promise. As mentioned earlier, this mixes fantasy with our world, as does his Maximum Ride series(that of the children, because of genetic manipulation, have wings and are able fly quite well). A new young adult series that I think us “grown” children might enjoy.

One final note. I make no apology for liking some of Patterson’s books. He seems to be a whipping boy these days for all that is wrong with that sort of publishing. Largely true, there are still a few gems popping up. At least in my mind.