The Master’s Book by Philip Coleman
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Genre: Upper MG or lower YA Mystery/Thriller
Publication Date: March 15th, 2013
Page Count: 236
Available: ebooks (worldwide)
Sean moves to Brussels to a house that is a crime scene…
In 1482 Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy, lies on her deathbed in a castle in Flanders. She is only 25. In her final moments she makes a wish that, 500 years later, will threaten the lives of a boy and a girl living in Brussels.
The Master’s Book is the story of Sean, an Irish teenager, just arrived in Brussels to a house that is also a crime scene. Together with Stephanie, his classmate, he finds an illuminated manuscript, only for it to be stolen almost at once.
Where did this manuscript come from? Who was it originally made for? Is there a connection with the beautiful tomb Sean has seen in Bruges? Above all, why does someone want this book so badly that they are prepared to kill for it?
Part thriller and part paper-chase, this book is aimed at boys and girls of twelve and over.
Philip Coleman’s Top Ten Books
First of all, I’ve read and loved so many books that it was hard to be selective. So I decided to put to one side books like “Wuthering Heights” or “Anna Karenina” that would be in anyone’s top ten who has read them, and to focus instead on slightly less obvious ones. I’ve also leaned towards books that, although most of them are written for adults, might appeal to teenage readers, since that is the readership for the books that I write. And, finally I haven’t ranked them in any particular order. So here goes.
1. The Siege of Krishnapur, by J.G. Farrell
This is the second in J.G. Farrell’s so-called Empire Trilogy (“so-called” because it’s not a continuous story and he was, in fact, in the process of writing a fourth installment when he died in a drowning accident). It’s set during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and is a delightful mixture of adventure, suspense and satire. I read it aloud to my kids when they were coming into their teens and they loved it.
2. Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
Forget the Spielberg film and read the book. J.G. Ballard lived in Shanghai as a boy and, like all ex-patriot civilians, he was interned by the Japanese when they occupied the city during World War Two. This autobiographical novel is based on that experience
3. My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell
Gerald Durrell wrote books to fund his work in the Jersey Wildlife Trust. While he was an expert biologist and all his books concern animals in one way or another, it is the human characters that make them laugh-out-loud funny, and this one is his best.
4. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
This dystopian novel is ostensibly about people who are cloned for organ replacement purposes. In fact, it is as much about loneliness and the struggle of ordinary people to find companionship and meaning in their fraught lives.Heartbreaking but wonderful.
5. His Dark Materials, by Philip Pulman
Part fantasy, part sci-fi, this beautiful trilogy is a triumph of the imagination, and deals with issues such as the existence of God, and whether or not there is an after-life. It has angels, polar bears, zeppelins and strange elephant-like creatures that go about on wheels. Above all, it is animated by the central character, Lyra Belacqua, perhaps the most engaging girl character in literature.
6. Les Enfants Terribles by Jean Cocteau
There is nothing else quite like this blackly comic and anarchic book about three children that grow up in an intense and destructive relationship. It’s not strictly a children’s book but teen readers should like it, and Cocteau understands the teenage mind.
7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I’m sorry if this choice offends some people reading this blog,but at a certain age teenagers should be ready for the delicate issues this book deals with. It’s sometimes funny, often sad but always shocking.
8. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
As well as educating the reader about the tragedy of the Congo, this is a beautifully written account of girls growing up.
9. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
In general Henry James isn’t very approachable but this short ghost story is an exception. It’s extremely subtle and sinister,and my children loved it.
10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
A charming, witty, compassionate account of a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome, coping with the loss of his mother, and trying to find out who murdered the neighbour’s dog.
Philip Coleman has worked as a biologist for most of his life—in Ireland, Belgium and now in Switzerland. Having been an avid reader all his life, he took up writing only in 2006. This is his first published novel. He drew his inspiration for the story from the period he spent working for the EU in Brussels. He has a grown-up son and daughter (who were roughly the same ages as Sean and Maeve during the time in Brussels but otherwise aren’t a bit like them at all!). He now lives in France.
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