Sentinel is the first part of The Sentinel Trilogy. It promises to be a very entertaining YA series. It's full of mystery, ancient terrors, a secret society dedicated to protecting the world, and one young man trying to figure out what it all has to do with him.
There are two very strong beginnings to Sentinel. First up, the prologue sends us back to 1589 and two women summoning spirits. Isabel is tutoring Jessica in the art of leading lost souls to where they belong, but something goes horribly wrong. Then, we are back in the present day. Anita and Max Hallow are embarking on a train journey, which is making Anita disproportionately anxious, seemingly. The sense of danger is nicely built, as the pair chat to a priest sitting nearby. The couple fear that something has caught up with them, and unfortunately that looks to be true.
Nicholas Hallow is left without his parents to protect him from whatever is coming. And that something is coming is undoubted. There are some weird things happening around Nicholas, not least the unseasonal weather Cambridge is suffering. I liked the use of freak snowstorms and frigid temperatures to signal the imbalance of power occurring. I also liked Nicholas' character, even though he has moments of disregarding all common sense - why go looking for trouble when it's quite obviously seeking you out anyway!
There are some other good characters too. Sam is a fighter, dedicated to the keeping Nicholas and everyone else safe. Malika is at the other end of the good/bad spectrum; she's a fiendishly deadly but beautiful malevolent force. Some of my favourite passages in the book are when she's up to no good. There's a great section where Malika is attempting to resurrect an ancient evil, full of tension, power and longing.
A lot goes on in Sentinel. Nicholas' awakening to his birthright is at the centre of the story, which involves the Sentinels themselves, their purpose and enemies. It spins out from there to include various horrors, not all of which are completely explained in this book. I think there is a lot of unravelling still to come in the second two parts. At times I couldn't quite see how it all fit together, but there is a complete story here - at the end you know there's more to come but still feel that the individual volume has its own beginning, middle, and end - which is what I ask of a series. Occasionally, it is a tiny bit overwritten but at other times it flows beautifully. Overall, it captures my attention and I think there is so much potential for the story to progress. It is well worth taking a chance on this debut author. And I must just mention the cover art, I think it looks great.
Joshua Winning was kind enough to send me a copy of Sentinel to review. It is available as an eBook right now, and you can find out more about both the author and book on his website.