Colm McElwain's James Clyde and the Tomb of Salvation was published in November 2018.

Information about Colm McElwain:

Colm was raised and educated in Monaghan, Ireland. He is a Physical Education and Business teacher and likes reading books, watching films and playing sport. He has always loved storytelling, whether through literature or film. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is his first novel and brings a very fulfilling creative experience spanning a number of years to an end. James Clyde and the Tomb of Salvation is his second novel.

Information about James Clyde and the Tomb of Salvation:

Picking up shortly after the events of the first adventure, James Clyde returns with his best friends Ben and Mary Forester to his grandfather’s house in search of a map that will lead them to the Tomb of Salvation – an ancient shrine, where the three diamonds of Orchestra must be returned with the promise of immortality.

James and his company of adventurers journey through treacherous lands fraught with danger and meet many obstacles along the way – dangerous assassins on board a train, the dastardly Gilbert, also known as the ‘man in black’, and even an unlikely encounter with a fabled lake monster.

If they reach the Tomb of Salvation, James knows they will then face their greatest threat, for the tomb is said to be home to a terrifying demon – an entity that has shown no mercy to anyone who has ever entered its lair.

The second novel in the James Clyde series will lead you on an action-packed adventure full of mystery, suspense, danger, hope – and, yes, salvation.

REVIEW: JAMES CLYDE AND THE TOMB OF SALVATION BY COLM MCELWAIN

Colm McElwain's James Clyde and the Tomb of Salvation is the second novel in the James Clyde fantasy series for middle grade readers. It's a thrilling sequel to the author's debut novel (James Clyde and the Diamonds of the Orchestra), because it's filled with magic, action and adventure.

James Clyde and the Tomb of Salvation is an easily likeable, accessible and entertaining novel, because the story moves fast forward and the plot twists will entertain readers and take them by surprise. Readers who enjoy fast-paced action won't be disappointed by the story, because something is always happening and there aren't any dull moments.

When I began to read this novel, I noticed that it's charmingly old-fashioned, but has a distinct modern edge to it. I found myself intrigued by the fast-paced story, because the author kept things interesting by writing swiftly about the happenings and made sure that the story always goes forward.

In the previous novel, three children - James, Ben and Mary - went to spend Christmas with James' grandfather, Wilmore Clyde. James was told that he isn't from Earth, but from Orchestra. His grandfather gave him a magical diamond of Orchestra and asked him to protect it. James found out that he had to fight against evil, because according to a prophecy he would be the saviour of Orchestra.

In this novel, the story picks up shortly after the events of the first novel. The story begins with Professor Laurence Shaw (a paranormal investigator) having a gathering at the Clyde Manor with people who have paid to spend a weekend there. Clyde Manor has become a famous haunted house, because one hundred years ago three children vanished off the face of the earth there. Soon, something strange happens to Professor Shaw and he meets James Clyde, Mary Forester and Ben Forester. James, Mary and Ben have returned to Clyde Manor in search of a map that will lead them to the Tomb of Salvation. Meanwhile, Queen Abigail is also searching for the map and wants to find a way to the tomb...

The stakes are now higher than before and the future of the world is threatened, because James knows that if Queen Abigail reaches the tomb first, she will rule forever and the forces of darkness will trample across Orchestra.

It was intriguing to read about the adventure-filled race to the tomb. The author writes well about what kind of problems James and his friends face along the way. Finding the tomb is not easy for the characters, because they face obstacles and assassins. I won't reveal any details about the ending or what happens to the characters, but I can mention that the events are intriguing and everything culminates into what happens in the tomb, because the author brings things to closure.

The main characters - James, Ben and Mary - are likeable and well-created characters who differ from each other. It was fun to read about them and also about Simon, Grampian, Kila and other characters, because the author has created a diverse cast of secondary characters.

This novel reveals more things about James' mother, which is good, because it brings depth to the relationship between her and James.

Queen Abigail is an intriguing evil character who has a complex past. It's great that the author explores her background and writes about how she ended up in Orchestra and what became of her. I also enjoyed reading about Gilbert, because he's a ruthless and dastardly man.

I liked Colm McElwain's worldbuilding, because it's effortless and he lets readers get to know the world by means of the story. Nothing is overexplained in this novel and the author leaves room for imagination, which is good. In this novel, readers get to read more about the world of Orchestra and its different places. Reading about Stonecrest was interesting, because it's the oldest city in Orchestra and is renowned for its ancient architecture and market stalls. I also found Esterford interesting, because it's a colourful town that is renowned for its railway system.

The story has a few bits and pieces of humour that are well placed. I found some of the dialogues refreshingly funny and humorous.

Although this novel is basically a fantasy adventure, it's also a tale about friendship, power, danger, war, betrayal, hope and salvation. The author explores hope and salvation from a classic point of view, which is nice, because it fits the story. One of themes explored in this novel is if it's possible for a person, who has done bad things, to find salvation. The author also explores friendship in a fluent way by writing about what goes on between the characters.

There's something about this novel that reminds me of classic children's novels and good old-fashioned fantasy stories. I have a feeling that it's possible that these classic novels and stories may have been a source of inspiration to the author. When I read this novel, I thought to myself that it has something in it that reminds me a bit of Enid Blyton's stories, because the protagonists and their friends are resourceful and find ways to solve difficult situations.

The author writes clear and fluent prose and keeps the chapters short, making the story ideal for younger readers. The short chapters make the story easy to read.

One of the strengths of this novel is that it may encourage many middle grade readers to read books. The story is so gripping and fascinating that younger readers will most likely find themselves fully immersed in it and will begin to search for similar kind of fiction. The same applies to the first novel.

I liked this novel and its predecessor a lot, because they're classic children's novels that have been written out of love for storytelling. I sincerely hope that Colm McElwain will soon write more novels, because he writes good and fast-paced fiction.

I can recommend this charming fantasy novel to readers who enjoy middle grade fantasy fiction and children's adventure stories, because it's an entertaining novel. It's good escapism and thrilling fun for readers of all ages.

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