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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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07/17/2006 Archived Entry: "Book Review: Endymion Spring"

Endymion Spring
By Matthew Skelton
Published by Delacorte Press
Release date: August 22, 2006

Reviewed by Kathryn Ramage

In modern-day Oxford, a bored little American boy named Blake wanders an old library where his mother is working on her research, when he finds a book titled Endymion Spring--or, to be more accurate, the book finds him, nearly jumping into his hand when he touches the spine. But when Blake opens the book, all the pages appear to be blank. Turning through the pages, he finds a poem at the very center of the book:

"When Summer and Winter in Autumn divide
The Sun will uncover a secret inside.
Should Winter from Summer irrevocably part
The Whole of the Book will fall quickly apart.
Yet if the Seasons join Hands together
The Order of Things will last forever.
These are the Words of Endymion Spring.
Bring only the Insight the Inside brings."

A riddle, a prophecy? but who or what is Endymion Spring?

Endymion Spring, we soon learn, was a little German boy, mute and hunchbacked, who worked as a "printer's devil"--i.e., an apprentice--to Johann Gutenberg on his famous project to print the Bible with moveable type. In 1452, a man named Fust--or perhaps it's Faust--approached Gutenberg with an offer to support his printing-press, and bearing a curious box with fanged serpent-heads guarding the lid; the serpent-heads move aside only when they taste blood. A child's blood is most potent. When Endymion cuts his finger on the lid, the box opened to reveal its secret?

How Endymion moves from that moment of discovering the box's contents to becoming a name on a book with magical powers comprises the rest of this fascinating tale. While Blake and his sister Duck hunt for clues as to Endymion Spring's identity and the meaning of the mysterious book that bears his name, they also learn that a number of grown-ups have also been eagerly searching for this same book; some seek the knowledge hidden in the book, some are after its power it offers, and not all have good intentions about how they will use it.

Endymion Spring is a children's book, but a surprisingly literary one. The story has plenty of references to classic literature, not only to the Faust legend and medieval bestiaries, but to the Oxonian fantasy writers--Carroll, Lewis, Tolkien--and the mystery behind the book Endymion Spring is nicely complex and textured. As an adult reader, there were only a couple of plot points I found fault with near the very end: The villain, when revealed, resorts to melodramatic Mwa-ha-ha evil behavior, and the conflict between Blake's parents, who are separated and look like they're heading for divorce, after being handled in a mature and realistic manner, especially with regard to the children's reactions, is resolved in a rather facile way. But I acknowledge that a younger reader might not have the same problem with these points that I did, and I wouldn't let them spoil what is for the most part a highly enjoyable story.

Very cool website for Endymion Spring, if you have flash (or whatever it is). Ed

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