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The Nethergrim    by Matthew Jobin order for
by Matthew Jobin
Order:  USA  Can
Puffin, 2015 (2014)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Matthew Jobin's The Nethergrim opens a new middle grade fantasy series, starring three young people in the village of Moorvale. They all know the legend of the evil Nethergrim's defeat by brave knight Tristan and talented wizard Vithric, but now this old tale is coming much too close to home!

Fourteen-year-old Edmund Bale is always in trouble with his father, for spending his hard earned money on worthless scrolls. Edmund is passionately interested in magic but has no-one to teach him. His father wants him to keep working at their inn and take it over when he's older. Edmund adores tall tomboy Katherine Mashal, but he's just a friend to her. And he steals a wizard's book of magics and tries to teach himself from it.

Katherine helps her father John (who was one of the original men who defeated the Nethergrim) train horses and she herself trains as a warrior. She is attracted to Harry, son of the local lord. Katherine and Edmund are close friends with Tom, who is slave to a brutal master. They do what they can for him. At the village fair they hear of local animals going missing, as well as some children.

On a night time escapade, the trio of friends find a dead village boy and encounter a bolgug, not seen since the time of the Nethergrim. More children go missing, including Edmund's brother Geoffrey. When Katherine presses her father about what happened to the Nethergrim before, it's not the story they all learned as children. And evil is active once more.

Will Edmund be able to work out how to use his magic in time to save his brother and others? Can Tom escape his wicked master and will Harry stand up to his parents for Katherine's sake? You'll have to read The Nethergrim to find out. It's a solid start to an intriguing series.

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