Review by BRIGITTE ROZARIO
SHERLOCK HONG: YOUNG SEEKER
THE CASE OF THE IMMORTAL NIGHTINGALE
By Don Bosco
Publisher: Don Bosco
I was not sure what to expect when I was approached to review this book. It's a self-published book and those often aren't on par with books published by the publishing houses.
The book cover added to my fear as it is nothing to shout about and in fact, if left on the bookstore shelves next to Geronimo Stilton and Usborne books, it would probably remain there.
So, it was with great pleasure and joy that I discovered the book has much more to offer and should not be judged by its cover or the fact that the author published this book himself.
The first book in this series, The Case of the Immortal Nightingale is an intriguing story with adventure, excitement, suspense, intrigue and it is all painted in a familiar yet distant setting.
I have to admit I enjoyed reading Don Bosco's book and, at the end, looked out for information on where I could get the other books in this series.
The story is set in Singapore in 1891 and it tells the tale of 15-year-old Sherlock Hong who is a member of the International Order of Young Seekers.
The whole story is told from his point of view in narration format, as if he is speaking to the reader. It is only through Sherlock's voice that we learn about the Order of adventurers, experimenters and champions of justice.
Being a member of such an order can only mean that he goes all out for adventure and justice.
At home, Sherlock lives a pretty normal life with his mum hounding him about this future and his studies. She even gets him a new tutor.
Thankfully, an adventure unfolds to distract him from his dreary life as a student in Singapore. Auntie Mei's father is devastated when his nightingale drops dead. He has always thought that he would turn into a Heavenly Immortal if he listens to the nightingale's song on his deathbed.
A necromancer by the name of William Fong is hired to bring the bird back to life. The “ceremony” will be conducted soon and in fact Fong is selling tickets to the show!
Sherlock is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery – to find out who is William Fong, what trickery and scam is involved, and bring everyone involved to justice.
He is not alone, having help from his friends Aisha and Pui.
Should Sherlock tell his two pals about the order that he belongs to? Should he invite them to join the order? Who is William Fong and how will he bring the nightingale back to life?
Singaporean author Bosco's storytelling ability comes across very obviously in this book. He doesn't bother overwhelming readers with too much information and thus makes reading the book a breeze.
I think the protagonist Sherlock could have been fleshed out a bit more in this book. However, Sherlock Hong: Young Seeker is a series and hence, readers can look forward to learning more about Sherlock and his family in the upcoming books.
Children as young as eight years old will enjoy reading this book and might even want to know more about what old Malaya and Singapore and their inhabitants looked like. Parents can use the book as a talking point about local history and geography.
I look forward to more books set in region and would love to read about Sherlock's adventures in Malaya, even.
Bosco sets the scene so well that you can imagine the ships at the dock and the locals walking around in the traditional clothes of that period.
The book can be downloaded for free from here:
The second book will be out in six weeks' time.
Bosco's website can be found at http://www.supercoolbooks.com/.