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The Gospel of the Knife    by Will Shetterly order for
Gospel of the Knife
by Will Shetterly
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

Christopher Nix, the oldest child of ordinary parents living in the heartland of Florida, is different. Chris doesn't realise it himself, although he does experience some odd manifestations when he appears to walk on water but Chris manages to rationalize this experience and continues to be his teenage, rebellious self, suffering the typical teen angst, running away from home, and so on.

Everything changes when Chris meets CC, also known as Eula Mae, a young black girl whom he finds strangely enthralling, even bewitching. Of course their friendship cannot last the mid-1970s Southern US social mores are not amenable to mixed-race relationships. CC flees the state with her Grandmother, leaving no forwarding address. Chris sinks into despair, suffers punishment in the form of manual labour from his father for cussing him out, and is generally dissatisfied with his life.

Enter Jay Dumont: Mr. Dumont is a wealthy man, who apparently owes Chris's grandfather a huge debt for saving his life in World War I. Although Grandpa Abner is deceased, Mr. Dumont has decided to sponsor Chris at the prestigious Academy, the ultimate US prep school located in New England, claiming that Chris is a special child. Chris is more than willing to leave his boring Florida home, especially as he has no hope of seeing CC again. He enters a world stranger than he could have imagined.

This was fast-paced and entertaining for the first two thirds of the book; unfortunately the author then incorporated a whole section of historical information, detailing why Chris might have the powers he does. The section was much too long, the narrative was not up to Shetterly's previous style, and in fact it almost stopped this reader in her tracks from finishing the book. Though the finale was anti-climactic, it was certainly better than the third section. The Gospel of the Knife would be of interest to young male readers (if they can get through Book Three) and obviously is written with a sequel (or two) in mind.

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