Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Demon Queen and the Locksmith (Spencer Baum)

Overall: 4
  • Plot: 5/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Language: 2.5/5
  • Believability: 3.4/5
The Demon Queen and the Locksmith by Spencer Baum

In Turquoise, New Mexico, a small group of hippies believe that the mountain north of town emits a constant, resonant hum that is only audible to a chosen few. They call themselves the Hearers, and the fact that fourteen-year-old Kevin Brown has never trusted them makes it all the worse when his own ears begin to ring, and he comes to realize "The Turquoise Hum" may be much more than a sound."
Genre: Science Fiction,
Children's Literature
Purchase Links:
Kindle US | UK | DE
Other Links:
author website

The so-called "Turquoise Hum" is an unique phenomenon, one that is not quite spiritual and not quite corporeal; it is a signal inextricably interwoven in the lives of individuals the world over. Kevin Brown's father is one person whose existence has been touched by the Hum. He is a Hearer, one who was able to follow this combination of life force and echolocation to find his way to a small town in New Mexico.

While the concept itself may seem extraordinarily complex, Baum feeds it to us in digestible chunks through the main character's thoughts and experiences. The plot was well-conceived, one that flows naturally through the author's words and his innate grasp of storytelling. From the moment Kevin meets Joseph and Jackie to his struggles with telling his dad about the Hum, each passage draws you deeper into the tale, even if the fire ants and termites make your skin crawl.

One of the author's greatest strengths is that he allows readers to discover things alongside his characters. For example, instead of being told of the children's newfound superpowers, we are able to witness their inception. This sense of involvement is ideal for younger and older readers alike, though it is especially important in maintaining the interest of those who are easily bored by academic text.

While it is evident that both fire ants and termites were heavily researched prior to the writing of this book, one major typographical error did bother me to no end: the substitution of "etymology" for "entomology", especially since the misuse of the term came from a character who is supposed to be a specialist. Another source of frustration is that almost all of the speech was indicated using "said" or "asked". With the plethora of dialogue-related verbs available, the unnecessary repetition chafed my ears, and I started sticking to the words inside the quotation marks to soothe the consequent irritation. If only the run-on sentences were so easily managed.

The Demon Queen and the Locksmith is an entertaining story that children and adult alike can enjoy. Just plan to set aside a few hours, or perhaps learn how to read and sleep at the same time.


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