The Farfield Curse (Bran Hambric Series #1)

The Farfield Curse (Bran Hambric Series #1)

4.7 109
by Kaleb Nation
     
 

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What if your mother was a criminal?
What if her crime was magic?
What if magic ran in the family?

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Overview

What if your mother was a criminal?
What if her crime was magic?
What if magic ran in the family?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Newcomer Nation makes his debut with this whimsical addition to the “magical orphan” genre, starring the eponymous Bran Hambric, found at age six inside a locked bank vault in the magic-hating city of Dunce. Raised by the banker who found him, Bran leads a normal life until he’s almost 14, at which point a series of events turn his existence upside down. At times quirky, at other times absurd, this story’s similarities to Harry Potter (the discovery of magical abilities, the dark overlord opponent who seeks to transcend death, the “normal” but neglectful adoptive family that raises the hero) leave it hovering between entertaining and derivative. The idea of a city that outlaws magic, in a world filled with gnomes and mages, is a concept that’s filled with potential. However, it suffers from a cutesy tone (though there are some dark moments) and supporting characters whose roles as comic relief border on parody. While it may appeal to those at the younger end of its target audience, more mature readers are less likely to be drawn into the story. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Bran Hambric is a foundling, left in a bank vault and taken in by Sewey and Mabel Wilomas, who live in the town of Dunce. In an effort to preserve the decency of the community, the town has banned even the mere mention of magic. During a harrowing accident involving a truck at the Duncelander Fair, Bran discovers that he is a mage. He also has to face the difficult truth that his mother was a mage as well as a criminal, in league with an underground group with a rather gruesome plan to overthrow the Mages Council. Bran discovers that people are trying to find him so that they can use him to help finish the job she started. This book is a clear reflection of the influence of the "Harry Potter" books on a new generation of writers. Sadly, the author's attempts at creative language and original ideas come across as silly. Nation creates a contemporary world that is a tool for social satire, but that feels flat and uninteresting. Beyond quirks of dialogue, he gives no real sense of who the characters really are, so it is difficult to have any empathy when they are injured or appear to have died.—Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
Kirkus Reviews
Yet another journeyman fantasy composed by a teenage author. Wavering back and forth between labored farce and conventional bildungsroman, Nation's debut casts 14-year-old Bran as a parentless lad ignorant of his vast magical gifts being raised by the Dursleys-er, a caricatured unmagical family-who treat him like a servant. Having been attacked by a crazed stranger, followed by a mysterious black van and led to a hidden library of magic textbooks, Bran comes to realize that all is not as it seems in the magic-hating town of Dunce. As it turns out, he is a horcrux-er, repository-for the spirit of Voldemort-er, Baslyn-an incompletely dead dark magician. Though still an amateur wordsmith ("His teeth were tightened together, feeling angry and betrayed . . . ") the author tucks in promisingly clever touches (magical power is measured in "witts," and weak mages are dubbed "dimwitts") and has a knack for crafting violent, quickly paced chases and fights. He doesn't lack for ambition either, with a soundtrack already composed and notes for five sequels in the hopper. That ambition outstrips his skill; look for better work down the line. (Fantasy. 11-13)
From the Publisher
""...the author tucks in promisingly clever touches (magical power is measured in 'witts,' and weak mages are dubbed 'dimwitts') and has a knack for crafting violent, quickly paced chases and fights." -Kirkus" - Kirkus

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402243974
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
08/01/2010
Series:
Bran Hambric Series, #1
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
644,140
Product dimensions:
8.02(w) x 11.04(h) x 1.24(d)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Hanging outside the gates of the city of Dunce was a sign that read:

no gnomes

no mages

etcetera

And if you didn't agree, you had best like jail food. Every other city in the rest of the world allowed gnomes and magic, but for centuries the Duncelanders had proudly stayed the exception. Behind their border wall of brick, the police chief put officers on perpetual watch for any short gnomes wearing tall, conical red hats. Helicopters regularly patrolled the borders, and every good citizen was quick to report anything remotely magic, in case a mage was around. They had orders to report any etceteras as well, if they happened to see one.

Since few people came into Dunce, and even fewer left, rumors about the city grew every year. This notoriety gave birth to streets nearly as infamous - and Bolton Road seemed destined to be the most infamous of them all.

In the thirteenth house on the right side of that street, at eleven o'clock on a Wednesday night, eight-year-old Balder Wilomas dashed into his parents' bedroom, claiming he had heard a burglar struggling with the front door. Sewey Wilomas sent him right back to bed with no more scary movies for a week. Five minutes later, in came Baldretta, Balder's three-year-old sister, having heard someone at the door too. Sewey sent her back as well, with a bag of chocolates to munch until morning. All this was, of course, until he heard the noise a minute later and barreled downstairs, revolver in hand, only to find scratches on the door and some dirty tracks.

"Burglars…" he muttered. "And I'm plumb out of Burglar-Be-Gone spray too." He turned to the others, standing at the stairs. Mabel: his wife. Rosie Tuttle: Mabel's cousin, who did the housework and cooking. Balder and Baldretta: his two children. And Bran - the Wilomas' great Accident.

"He'll be coming back," Sewey added. "And being a banker, I learned exactly what to do."

"Call the police?" Bran suggested.

"No scary movies for a week?" Balder mused.

"Mmbbl?" Baldretta managed to say, offering one of the few candies not stuffing her cheeks.

"No!" Sewey spat. "Bran and I are going to catch this burglar."

"I think I'd rather catch some sleep," Bran said with a yawn. But inside he felt that watching for a burglar was far better than just another boring evening - one of many he had spent since that fateful morning eight years before.

• *

The Great and Glorious City Of Dunce, as was its official title, was like an overgrown blot on the map. It covered miles of suburban land so vast that many wondered if it was no longer a city, but rather a small state of its own. If Dunce was a blot on the map, then Bran was a blot on the city of Dunce - the Accident that shouldn't have happened. As if to prove this time and again, there was a driftwood sign tacked next to the front door of the Wilomas' red-brick, two-story house that read:

The Wilomas Family

Sewey

Mabel

Balder

Baldretta

But that was all. After eight years, Bran's name was still no­where to be found. Eight o'clock on Thursday night found Sewey and Bran on the roof of the house: Sewey with his revolver and Bran with a cigar box of bullets. The air was frigid, and the roof was so steep Bran had to hold to the chimney for balance. Sewey had thoughtfully brought up two pork and mustard sandwiches, in case he got hungry, and had quickly gobbled both down without offering Bran a bite.
One hour passed. Another hour passed. No burglar.

"Keep very quiet," Sewey warned around ten thirty. "I took Burglar Methodology and Tactics in banker school: he'll be coming at precisely ten forty-five!"

Eleven eventually rolled about, and then eleven thirty. Sewey's mood worsened. By midnight, he was so fed up that he climbed down the ladder and returned with a briefcase of paperwork to go over.

"Cold, cold, cold!" Sewey shivered. "Am I the only one in town who cares about this burglar?"

"It's past midnight." Bran yawned. "Maybe the burglar is where we should be: in bed."

"Great rot, Bran," Sewey grumbled. "Every scarecrow who's gotten past Basic Burglarology knows they're never satisfied with scratching a door and leaving dirty tracks. Mark my words, he's coming back tonight." He shifted. "Now hold that flashlight still; your shivering is making me write crooked."

For the hundredth time that night, Bran sighed and lifted his arm, which was falling asleep without him. To Bran, dirt on the ground and scratches on the door did not spell burglar.

"Aha!" Sewey exclaimed, pushing against the chimney.

Sewey hardly ever smiled, and he hardly ever laughed either. More commonly he wore a frown resembling an upside-down banana plastered on his face. His hair and moustache were dark, and though he wasn't fat, he had gained a little weight since he was younger, which perfectly complimented his balding scalp and general grumpiness.

"File this under Evictions," he muttered to Bran. "Old Widow Todilmay won't get past this banker!"

Bran set it in the stack marked Evictions without a word. Bran himself wasn't very tall, but he topped Sewey's shoulders at fourteen years old, and had dark brown hair and eyes of the same color. There wasn't much out of the ordinary about him. He was just plain, normal Bran. Except of course, for how he ended up on Bolton Road.

Helping Sewey with his paperwork was a constant, nagging reminder of the Accident, of the whispers Bran often overheard when Sewey called him to the bank for one chore or another: "There we were, all closed up, the vault locked tight, the next day Sewey gets here early and checks the vault like always… and there he is. A six-year-old boy. Just sitting there in the middle of the floor. Nothing stolen, nothing even moved. And the worst part is the Finders Keepers Law regarding Orphans. That's why Sewey calls it the Accident. According to the Laws of Dunce, because Sewey found the boy, Bran is his 'forever or until the End of Time, whichever comes later...'"

The strangest part always came after. "And the note," they would whisper. "It was tight in the boy's hand, and the only thing it said was 'Bran Hambric, born June 17. To: Clarence'."

But no one knew more. Sometimes, in tones so hushed that Bran had to strain his ears, he often heard another word - never shared with Sewey, but offered as the only possible explanation.

"Magic."

"Pay attention!" Sewey snapped, breaking Bran out of his thoughts. Bran counted the papers in Evictions, but when he got to three hundred he decided to give up on the rest. They sat on the chimney beside other piles, some marked Overdue, others Dangerously Overdue, and still others Very Dangerously Overdue.

It wasn't like Bran was the only strange thing that had hap­pened on Bolton Road. Just that Tuesday, a dozen red roses had been delivered to their door, addressed to Rosie Tuttle, with strict instructions addressing them to Rosie and Rosie alone. The card was signed with an enormous, swirling letter B, and the instant Rosie set eyes on it she tore it to pieces and threw it away, and would say nothing about it to anyone.

Instead of minding his own beeswax, Sewey Wilomas had de­cided to piece the torn shreds together like a puzzle with staples and sticky tape. When he finally got them in order, he caused such a terrible ruckus with every Bob, Binkey, and Balfred in town that the neighbors had called the police, who carted him off for a day's worth of scrubbing the sewers. Unfortunately for Bran, community service hadn't phased Sewey in the slightest.

"Overdue payment on the Bogwingle's..." Sewey mumbled on, scribbling ONE DAY LATE in bright red.

"Another one for Evictions," he said, passing it to Bran.

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