Amy's Marathon of Books blog
"Remarkably easy to get into and straight-forward. The characters of Maurey and Annot were interesting and relatable, and I liked the book’s theme of acceptance."
Mad Tales blog
"The book is fantastical - set in medievalish worlds, with magical beings - but it is also quite realistic in the telling. Characters use magic as a tool, but they are forced to struggle and work for their goals, and magic does not become a prop to them. I really enjoyed this book."
"The fast-paced adventure, compelling characters and conflicts that make sense will reward readers of this fully-realized fantasy."
"All I can say is WOW!...Amazingly well-developed and imagined...intelligent and witty."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Fantasy fans who favor rich settings are likely to find [the main character's] quest through dangerous landscapes...compelling."
"Johansen has created a world and a cast of characters that I thoroughly enjoyed journeying with."
"A fast-paced adventure story...The main characters are multi-dimensional and should appeal to readers of either gender. Highly recommended."
Quill & Quire
"The vaguely medieval fantasy past…gives [Johansen] a chance to use both her background as a medieval scholar and her fascination with The Lord of the Rings."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
Fantasy fans who favor rich settings are likely to find [the main character's] quest through dangerous landscapes...compelling.
Teens Read Too
Amazingly well-developed and imagined, both character and story-wise, intelligent, and witty.
Children's Literature - Triss Robinson
Nightwalker Book One: The Warlocks of Talverdin is a fast moving, exciting story that has the same feel as Lord of the Rings. Maurey is an orphan who went to a grammar school paid for by the woman who raised him after his mother died. He suddenly finds himself reduced to an unpaid servant. He is abused by the other boys because of his black hair and eyes. His looks resemble the sorcerers that once lived on the island. The King's Chancellor notes two rings on Maurey. These rings belonged to the King's mother, who ran off with a Nightwalker many years before, never to be seen again. The chancellor convinces the King that Maurey must be a Nightstalker and burned alive. The King realizes Maurey is his half brother but is too weak to override the Chancellor's decision. A young and unhappy baroness called Annot who lives in the castle comes to Maurey's rescue. Together they escape and disappear into the forest. Earlier Maurey discovered he had the ability to disappear into the darkness when he was being pursued by the boys at school. He is now able to pull Annot into his darkness so both can escape unseen from the pursuing soldiers. After much hardship and pain, they are able to travel to the land of the Nightwalkers. The Nightwalkers do not trust Maurey because for years humans destroyed these people out of fear. In time they realize he is family. A plan is devised to go back to Maureys' home and try to make peace. The ending is for the reader to find out. It is filled with danger, betrayal, and finally enlightenment. Upper elementary readers, boys and girls, would find their interest lasting to the very end. Reviewer: Triss Robinson
VOYA - Heidi Dolamore
After a corrupt headmaster steals his money, Maurey leaves school and becomes a servant. Orphaned at birth, Maurey has kept only the rings he wears on a chain around his neck as keepsakes from his family. Dark hair and eyes make Maurey stand out, resembling a race of sorcerers called Nightwalkers who used to rule the land. The king's advisor, Chancellor Holden, becomes suspicious of Maurey when he discovers the rings, and Maurey is sentenced to a trial by fire to prove whether or not he is a Nightwalker. The Chancellor's cousin, Annot, rescues Maurey, and they begin a long journey to the remote refuge of the Nightwalkers. Surprised to learn that he is half Nightwalker, Maurey discovers the truth about his parents and learns to use the magical powers that Nightwalkers possess-the ability to see in darkness and walk unseen amongst the shadows. Annot and Maurey uncover Holden's plan to invade the Nightwalker realm, and together they must prevent Holden from destroying Maurey's newfound family. Johansen creates an elaborate world populated by complex characters within a short novel, and readers will look forward to a sequel. History of the land is interwoven with action in a way that keeps the story moving forward at a rapid pace. Caught up in an unexpected adventure, Maurey and Annot rely on their wits to survive. Maurey must reconsider who he believes himself to be and learn to make decisions based on his own judgment rather than the opinions and assumptions of others.
KLIATT - Sherry Hoy
Maurey used to be a student at school, but when his guardian died, he was demoted to servant. He is the brunt of everyone's abuse because, with his black hair and eyes, he looks like the Nightwalkers, sorcerers from an adjacent kingdom that fought back with magic when they were invaded. Maurey teams up with young Annot, Baroness of Oakhold, who is a virtual prisoner at court because the king wants to control her land (and money). They set off to find a way into the Nightwalkers' hidden kingdom: no one has ever made it through the magic spells that protect the mountain entrance and many have never returned from the attempt. They are successful and discover that Maurey is a Nightwalker prince, and return to their homeland to begin changing attitudes and behaviors. They thwart the king's evil minion and the king accepts Maurey as a half brother. Filled with pathos, humor, and plenty of action, this should satisfy most YA fantasy readers. When they reach the Nightwalker kingdom after weeks of travails, Annot whispers to Maurey, "They do keep mentioning baths... do you think we smell?" Maurey responds that he hopes it was just the dog. This is sure to bring requests for the next in the series.
School Library Journal
On the isle of Eswiland, wizards are called "Night-eyes," or "Nightwalkers," because of their dark features and magical powers that allow them to travel safe and unseen through shadowy places. However, these powers didn't stop "Good King Hallow," a historical hero to the human population, from practically wiping them out. His weapons were propaganda and "philosopher's fire," which burned only Nightwalkers. Two generations and a lot of tedious family histories and expository conversation later, a suspiciously dark-eyed boy and a displaced duchess escape the current human king's court and make for the magically fortified mountain of the wizards. Along the way, Johansen includes a couple of funny scenes involving, for example, pigs charging the throne room. Unfortunately, she also throws off the pacing and misses the opportunity for character development by focusing on the action scenes while glossing over the getting-to-know-you parts of the journey. This causes real problems toward the end, where she stages a change-of-heart-and-reconciliation scene that isn't a bit believable. Johansen cites Tolkien as an influence, and is at her best when writing about war councils and political intrigues. This book might entertain readers who are waiting for the next book by Megan Whalen Turner or Diana Wynne Jones, but it won't leave a lasting impression.
Emily R. BrownCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
"Wait!" Chancellor Holden cried, and fast as a striking hawk he swooped forward and dragged me up by the front of my tunic.
Even as he swooped, I realized that in the fall, my mother's rings had tumbled out the neck of my shirt. I clutched at them, but too late. Chancellor Holden jerked the heavy chain over my head and held it swinging before them all.