Endymion Spring - Proof that publishing houses aren't really any better than self publishing.
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
In our family for over 10 years now, we've taken turns picking what book we read together every night. As such, we've read material as diverse as Jacques Lusseyran's And There Was Light, Hank the Cowdog, Seven Years in Tibet, Harry Potter, and even Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke.
One of our kids recently chose Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton. It was an interesting book, but having narrated a a good many self published books myself & listened to probably twice as many. Granted, there are a lot of really weak self published books out there, but in looking at how many ratings Endymion Spring has on Goodreads, (4,218) it is apparent that having your book published by a major publisher at least drives some sales of your book.
So why am I making these comparisons? The plot of this book is rather odd, disjointed, and not incredibly cohesive. Skelton essentially gives you 2 plots - one in the 1400's centering around Johann Gutenburg, the titular Endymion Spring, Fust (Faust) and others. The other plot centering around Blake Summers, his little sister affectionately known as Duck, and a cadre of adult professorish types including his mother, none of which are particularly likable in any way. In particular, its very hard to like his mother in this book. Really, the most lovable character is the mute Endymion Spring in the 1400's. But no one really has any character development to speak of.
Then there is Skelton's writing in general. Peppered throughout the modern day storyline are some rather bizarre similes and metaphors, such as "The silver coins glistened like gobs of spit on the ground," and others equally as odd. Some of them were slightly poetic, but my oldest daughter & I in particular as I was reading were again and again taken out of the narrative to comment on the odd imagery. It just felt out of place, almost every time he used them. Some of them would fit very well in a poem, but just not in a book. It felt - just - clunky. Some of them reminded me of a list of bad high school writing that included things like "the boat floated on the water exactly the way that a bowling ball wouldn't."
Also - Blake & his sister are supposed to be from America & having grown up there would not refer the their mother, also American, as 'Mum'. The amount of things in this book that made me and my kids think, "Huh?" was just a bit over the top.
The ending felt fairly contrived & more like, oh I've written a pile of stuff & I'd better end it. The 1400's plot line is just kind of left abandoned.
In 'narrating' the book for my kids, I did enjoy narrating the 1400's portion & brushing up my German accent. The other chapters that take place in Oxford, I at least was able to do a few different variations on British. But whenever an odd metaphor came up, things came to a halt as we discussed it.
Overall... I honestly wouldn't rate this book as high as a 3 without the 1400's section. That at least boosts it up to there. My recommendation is to pass on this one & try something more interesting. We followed it up with Murder on the Orient Express. I'll review that one soon too.