Storyline: A Ghost in the Crystal beats two Harry Potters in the bush…? I might be incorrectly quoting that old adage, but I’d say that Matt Posner is definitely on to something with his new magic school series.
Simon Magus is starting his freshman year at New York City’s School of the Ages. Of course, this isn’t your typical school – it’s a school for magic – and Simon isn’t your typical teenager. Even before the school year starts, Simon finds himself caught up in mysteries, intrigue and even a personal haunting.
With the help of his clever study partner, Goldberry, and his roommate, Robbie and some other friends and even the help of an enemy, he must unravel the mystery of the spirit that is haunting him and, all the while, keep up grades in his classes.
Grammar/Spelling: I noticed several punctuation errors throughout – mostly with the usage of the quotation marks. The only grammatical error of note was at the beginning of the story: “…the cats are all asleep in their special hiding places and don’t like being waked up.” A very easy fix.
Character Development: Since I have had the pleasure of interviewing Miss Goldberry Tinker prior, I had assumed that she would be one of my favorite characters throughout and I was not disappointed! Goldberry is very talented, whip-smart and so very posh. I am looking forward to watching as she develops her power and skills. I believe that she will be the one to keep Simon grounded and, through her, Simon will definitely hone his own abilities.
Writing Style: Mr. Posner’s style carries the reader along swiftly and smoothly with his apparent wealth of knowledge of the more esoteric aspects of magic and religion. I truly enjoyed the mixture of Cabala, the more well-known “traditional” beliefs and the fresh spin on the religions of the Indian continent.
Continuity: No issues at all with continuity. Even with the element of time travel.
Overall Rating: 4+
School of the Ages: The Ghost in the Crystal written by Matt Posner is a fantastic start to a series about a school for magic that is surely to give that other series a run for it’s money. Not only was the story great, it was also fascinating seeing how almost all religions, faiths and beliefs can be intertwined. For my personal take-away from the story, I am definitely interested to learn a bit more about Cabala and Jewish beliefs. Absolutely intriguing!
Great job, Matt! I hope you’ll continue on in this vein and look forward to many more books in this wonderful series!
A Character Interview with Goldberry Tinker
Celia: Won’t you tell everyone a little about yourself, Goldberry?
Goldberry: Good evening. My name is Goldberry Tinker. I am a supporting character in School of the Ages: The Ghost in the Crystal. Specifically, I am a thirteen-year-old British girl living in New York. As a magic student, I am the study partner of Simon Magus, the main character, and my main roles in that story are to help gather information, to be more sensible than he is, and to make witty remarks. I’ll have more to do later, since it is a series. My specialty is divination, which is to say using magic like tarot cards and tea leaves to get information.
Celia: How did you first meet your writer?
Goldberry: I think my writer is such a fan of British humor and the British style of speaking that he couldn’t do without me. Presumably he knew that he needed someone named Goldberry in his book as a way of acknowledging his childhood fascination with Tolkien, although I’m nothing at all like Tom Bombadil’s charming little domestic partner. I’d rather be out in the world doing things than just being pretty and keeping house. And you know, Simon is a very good young man whom I am proud to have as a partner, but he tends to go off the deep end emotionally. He can lean on me then, because I know that if I’m in trouble, he won’t back up an inch till it’s settled.
Celia: Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
Goldberry: I know the future—well, usually — so I did rather see it coming.
Celia: What are your favorite scenes in your book: action, dialog, romance?
Goldberry: There is a lot of action in the story, but Simon does most of the fighting, and I help him clean himself up afterwards. I did have a nice moment making Yakov Mermelstein back off in the corridor outside the entrance to the cabala school. Then there’s the fight with the heretics in Alexandria, but that wasn’t so nice for me. I think there were some good bits of dialogue between my partner and me at various points, including the bus ride to school, when I had to admit that he had surprised me – not something easy to do. And it was satisfying when he finally told me what his problem was and I got to explain to him what an ass he was for not telling me earlier. Romance? Well, William Goodenough is rather interested in me, but I’m only thirteen – not ready for a serious boyfriend yet.
Celia: Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?
Goldberry: He doesn’t want me to get hurt, so he won’t let me fight in particular, but I’m not afraid. And I think he doesn’t want to show me getting along with William, since William and Simon are rather on bad terms.
Celia: Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?
Goldberry: I hope not. I’m only thirteen. I don’t want middle-aged men dreaming about me, thank you very much.
Celia: Of course not. I understand that completely. What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
Goldberry: I have a very strong sense of fair play, and I like to care for people in trouble. I got that from my mother. What I got from my father is that if you mess with me, I’ll make you regret it. As far as hobbies are concerned, I do rather enjoy fashion and shopping. I’m not as beautiful as my mother, but I enjoy being a trend-setter, and there’s no one else at School of the Ages who knows how to dress. One girl even wears a cone hat with stars and moons on it, like Mickey Mouse in the cartoon. Crikey, what a frump.
Celia: Are you currently engaged in a relationship?
Goldberry: I’ve begun seeing William Goodenough. He gives me tea and tells me the latest gossip. William is fourteen and he’s very handsome, but he does tend to talk down to people. I think he’s only testing them to toughen them up, but Simon really doesn’t like it. One day something bad is going to happen between them.
Celia: Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?
Goldberry: I’m in a young adult novel about a magic school. I’m a young adult enrolled in a magic school. It rather seems to fit. I do rather wish they would stop comparing me with Hermione Granger. I’m nothing like that overeager little rabbit.
Celia: If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
Goldberry: A lot of very sad things happen in the climax and the coda of the story. I do survive them all, but they are quite horrible. I’d rather have the book end with all of us sitting down to have tea and a laugh.
Cela: Do you like the way the book ended?
Goldberry: Well, it’s well-written, if that’s what you mean. Do I like how things turn out for me? Not so much. However, at least my author has promised not to kill me off during the series, so I suppose I’ll get through all the hard times.
Celia: Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer was so inclined?
Goldberry: I understand he’s now finishing the third book in a five-book sequence, and the second book is due out before the summer. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me overall, but I know I won’t be pampered and I’ll have to get my hands dirty from time to time. I don’t mind that, so long as nothing happens to my mother. (I’m not worried about my father; he’s commonly known in European magic circles as “The Butcher.”)
Celia: Do you believe that you are suitable portrayed in electronic books or would you rather be in paperback only?
Goldberry: I expect to be in both formats for the entire series. Shop for the books at amazon.com. If you ask me, I should be on the big screen, and my writer will do the screenplay and make sure I get to wear a lot of different outfits.
Celia: Did you have any input into the book cover design?
Goldberry: It would have been the book cover of the year if it had had me on it. Of course if it had my roommate Leah on it, the boys would buy it just for the picture.
Syria Says: What is the lamest characteristic your writer has attributed to you?
Goldberry: I’m not very good at magical combat at age thirteen. I assure you that will change. I have every intention of backing up what I say.
Celia: If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?
Goldberry: I’m a magician. I already have superpowers.