Arcadia by James Treadwell, published by Hodder and Stoughton on 26th February 2015
All the men are dead - now it's the boys' turn.
On a tiny archipelago, cut off from the rest of the world by a cursed sea, a handful of survivors live a precarious existence, clinging to their memories of the time before magic and their hope that those times will return.
As far as he knows, Rory is the only boy left.
Then the man comes, weaving his tales of a quest to find a powerful ring, and Rory finds himself embarking on a journey through terrors and marvels, once more in the world of men.
I've been really looking forward to seeing how James Treadwell's fantasy series will be concluded. This is a trilogy which I feel has somewhat flown under the radar with very little pre-publicity buzz. It is however one which has captivated me, without me being able to put my finger on exactly what it is about the story that has appealed to me so much.
The author, James Treadwell, has stated that his concept for the series was to imagine what would happen in the modern world if magic was to suddenly return. How would it affect or change society and what would it mean for certain individuals? I think the overall sense of the magical and the fantastical is carried along throughout the book, at the same time as there being a gritty realism and an atmosphere of dark danger to the story.
'Arcadia' centres around a young boy called Rory who lives on a tiny island with his mother and a community of other women. As the only boy there, he is cossetted by the women but at ten years of age he can be rebellious and finds himself becoming entangled with a group of mysterious strangers who are set to change his life forever. I loved the character of Rory and I enjoyed seeing events unfold around him.
Although I didn't always understand the subtext to some of the things that happened in the book, I honestly didn't feel that this mattered at all. I just loved the wild, elemental feel of the story and the sense that something epic was unfolding on the page.
This is the third and final book in the series but I almost think that you could read it as a standalone novel. It's not until the last few chapters that all the threads start to come together and previous characters return for the conclusion. Although I've read the whole series, it's been quite a while since I finished the first two books and I was a little hazy on some of the events that had taken place. Gradually I began to recollect things that had happened but don't let it put you off if this is the first book by James Treadwell that you're picking up. I'm sure you will enjoy it anyway!
I highly recommend this to fantasy fans who are looking for that next great read.