Attractively packaged in an all-important shiny cover, and clocking in at just shy of 450 pages, Matthew Skelton’s debut novel is a substantial and impressive addition to the oeuvre of modern children’s books that many commentators say is undergoing something of a ‘Golden Age’.
Endymion Spring, feverishly sought after by many a publisher when it was completed and thrust forth upon the books community for acquisition, has catapulted its shy creator into a very large limelight. And it is attention richly deserved. It’s a well-written book that impresses from the beginning.
The author expertly interweaves two narratives with aplomb. The first tells of the adventures of 12-year-old Blake Winters, who is visiting Oxford with his academic mother and his kid sister, Duck. While their mum immerses herself in dusty academia, Blake feels trapped in the rarefied air of the college library until one day, while running his finger along a shelf, something pierces his finger, drawing blood. The biting book responsible is a battered old volume, with a strange clasp like a serpent’s head?with real fangs. Printed on its front are two words: Endymion Spring.
The second part of the story takes place in 1452, in medieval Mainz, the German city where Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press to use movable type. It’s the tale of Gutenberg’s young apprentice, and the sacrifices he makes to keep a precious, dangerous dragon book from falling into the wrong hands.
The publishing industry loves a rags-to-riches story, and it hit the jackpot when Matthew Skelton, a penniless academic from Oxford, wrote a first novel that sold for huge sums of money. But Skelton has justified the investment in him by writing an intriguing, dramatic and suspenseful novel that cannot to fail to entertain all those who dare to pick it up.