Sentinel, by Joshua Winning
Characters: * * * * *
Story: * * * * *
Writing: * * * * *
Emotional Engagement: * * * * *
(I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)
“Sentinel” is the story of a fifteen-year-old boy, Nicholas Hallow, who, when his world falls apart, learns that he has abilities and a heritage that he never dreamed of. Evil beings who were long held at bay by the Sentinels have begun to gain a foothold in our world, and Nicholas finds himself the object of the stuggle between the Sentinels and the servants of the Dark Prophets.
This book grabbed me from the beginning and didn’t let go till the end. The sense of menace never lets up – even when Nicholas finds refuge, the danger is still out there, waiting. The descriptions of a world where evil is gaining power are chilling, as are the antagonists themselves. The characters are vividly drawn, and I found myself loving the good guys (and girls) and loving to hate the baddies. The book is also emotionally gripping – I felt the highs, lows, fear, relief, and shock right along with the characters.
“Sentinel” is described as “dark YA fantasy,” but it hits that sweet spot of having a teen protagonist and being appropriate for/interesting to teens, while also being written with a deeper, more sophisticated adult voice and outlook and featuring some adult point-of-view characters. I’m not a big YA reader, preferring adult characters and an adult voice, but I found myself deeply engaged in and satisfied with reading “Sentinel.” Besides being a good example of YA-adult crossover, I think this book would appeal very much to teen boys who enjoyed the Harry Potter books.
[Note: It’s very likely that the book has been re-edited prior to this release, so this part of the review may no longer be valid.] It isn’t perfect; there are a few bits of the story that didn’t quite hang together for me, though it never lost my attention, and the author occasionally uses words to attribute dialogue that don’t really work as substitutes for “said.”
Other than those tiny nitpicks, I thought “Sentinel” was fantastic, and enjoyed it immensely. (Plus it gives a whole new meaning to the term “crazy cat lady”!) I highly recommend it, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.
“What is a Sentinel? A guard. A killer. A detective.’
You see them every day, but you would have no idea who they really are or the power they hold. They are the world’s best kept-secret – and now the world needs them more than ever.
Mobilised against the devastating return of centuries-old dark forces, the Sentinels face their greatest challenge and a threat to their ancient existence. And when 15-year-old Nicholas Hallow’s parents are killed in a suspicious train crash, the teenager is drawn into a world where nothing is quite what it seems.
Against the backdrop of a summer snowstorm, Nicholas and hardy pensioner Sam Wilkins embark on a treacherous journey in which their pursuers are never far behind.
A young adult dark fantasy set in Cambridge, Sentinel is the first book in the thrilling Sentinel Trilogy. Filled with action, mystery, monsters and murder, it takes the reader on a terrifying adventure with unconventional heroes and a touch of magic.
He mostly failed. His stories were often gruesome and had titles like Skull and Skull II: The Revenge. (He even bound them using the old binding machine at his dad’s school.)
When he was 16, Joshua started writing his first ‘proper’ novel. It didn’t have a title then (or at least, it had a terrible one that Joshua refuses to reveal), but it slowly morphed into Sentinel. Almost 15 years, a film studies degree, and about five thousand cups of coffee later, he’s finally finished it. It’s turned out to be a very personal story, even if it does involve big explosions and nasty demons.
When he’s not writing about Sentinels, Joshua can usually be found watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Wire and Daria. He also works as a freelance journalist, writing about movies for Total Film, movieScope and Grolsch Film Works.
Joshua currently lives in North London with his cat Mia. Unfortunately, she’s not a great conversationalist, but he’s working on it.