Published: January 1st 2012, Catnip
Pages: 175 pages, ARC
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
My review: If you look at this novel on paper, I probably shouldn't have enjoyed it very much. Firstly, it's a historical (no bitchy high school cheerleaders) and it's aimed at the age range 8+ (no chance of drunken debauchery at house parties). However, something about this one grabbed my attention and made really want to give it a go. I read The Court Painter's Apprentice in a single sitting, while I was ill in bed with a throat infection (nasty) and it completely and utterly cheered me up. What a lovely little novel!
This novel just feels timeless. It reminded me of hunching over my desk back when I was in primary school and poring over every book our school library had to offer. This reminded me of those childhood books that I read and read until the books were dog-eared with ragged spines. This is a book I can completely see myself reading aloud to my children (if I finally do deem it appropriate to respawn... If not, well, Bertie will enjoy it, I'm sure). It's just a classic tale of mystery and adventure, which will definitely appeal to both girls and boys. It's definitely a book that can cross over age ranges and I'm convinced a lot of older readers will love this book too. I think it's so important, especially for younger age ranges, that books are accessible and make reading fun, rather than a chore.
The tone of The Court Painter’s Apprentice definitely gets a lot darker as the storyline progresses but I loved this. I’m so glad Knight isn’t patronising to his audience; he doesn’t shy away from intense, atmospheric scenes that really are quite frightening. I really enjoyed that, despite being for younger readers, this one wasn’t too Disney. Not that Disney isn’t fricking awesome (Aladdin as the hottest cartoon character of all time, anyone?) but The Court Painter’s Apprentice felt real, despite the fantastic elements in the content.
The relatively short length of the novel is great, making it a quick read for younger readers who may not have the attention span to trawl through a 500 page epic. No words are wasted on unnecessary back story and long, rolling descriptions and the concise length really helped the sense of immediacy that was prevalent from beginning to end.
The Court Painter's Apprentice just goes to show how important it is to step outside of your comfort zone every so often. I do tend to get stuck in a cycle of contemporary YA (just typed 'YAY' instead of 'YA'. Tempted to leave it as it is but better correct it) and read about endless mean blonde girls and pretty boys with long eyelashes. Now, this is all well and good as not much in life makes me happier than a pretty boy with long eyelashes but sometimes I just need a little something else to reaffirm my love for reading. Novels like The Court Painter's Apprentice are just that kind of story. Polar opposite to what I usually choose but stunningly well written and absolutely charming from beginning to end. Hooray!
First line: 'Take a look in the mirror.'
Read if you liked…: The Toymaker - Jeremy de Quidt
Total: 15/20 (B)