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Review of Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Kaleb Nation

Bran Hambric - Kaleb Nation - Urban Fantasy Novel - Young AdultBran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Kaleb Nation

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 2009)
ISBN-10: 1402218575

No gnomes. No mages. Etcetera. Such is the motto of the city of Dunce, a calm and peaceful city that takes great pride in ridding its streets of all forms of magic. Like any other city, it has a bank, and running the bank is a man named Sewey, and Sewey has a family of four — one son and a daughter — and he has one “adopted” son named Bran Hambric, a boy of fourteen who mysteriously arrived in Sewey’s bank vault eight years earlier with a note in his hand. No one knows how Bran got there. Some say it was by magic, an incident referred to by the citizens of Dunce as The Accident. But since that day on the eighteenth of April, nothing extraordinary has happened, and the people of Dunce have returned to life as normal. Nothing extraordinary … until now.

Author Kaleb Nation delivers a powerful, page-turning, character-driven, middle-grade urban fantasy story with his debut novel Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse. Bran lives with his foster parents, the Wilomas family, and even after eight years, he is still an outcast, forced to live in the attic and eat separately from the rest of the family. His only friend is Rosie, the caretaker of the house, and night after night, Bran sits in his room drawing sketches and wondering about his past. His entire memory before he was six has been erased; he has no recollection of his mother or his father or where he lived previously. He has no idea of his true identity, though there are those seeking him who do know, who understand the power he has inside him, a power waiting to be unleashed when the time is right. A dark evil is seeking it, waiting for the opportunity to seize Bran and use his power to do its bidding.

One night, an intruder comes to the Wilomas house, and as he’s trying to escape, he leaves behind a scrap of paper with Bran’s name on it. The torn note matches the paper Bran still has from that night he was found in the bank vault — part of an incomplete message — and over the next few weeks, a series of strange events leads Bran closer to understanding his past and the power he has inside him.

The story of Bran Hambric is fast-paced and unpredictable. Kaleb Nation pulls the reader in from the start, crafting action sequences with blurring motion and fluidity that leaves you breathless. He has an incredible ability to visually create a scene, so that every detail rises from the words on the page:

When it [the elevator] finally came to a stop, the doors slid apart, and everything behind them was shrouded in darkness. Gone were the lights from downstairs; instead, they had come to a dark, wide hall, with empty walls and a thick door on the far end. The air in the room was different than below — a processed, hotel air. Joris moved for the door across the room, sliding his keycard across the panel like a knife, and the handle gave a click (excerpt from page 301).

The tiny detail of “processed, hotel air” immediately — and concisely — conveys a particular image, a certain feeling. It’s powerful yet simple. Kaleb fills the pages with this kind of simple and clear language. And it is out of this natural rhythm of words that Kaleb Nation forms the complexity of his characters, each unique in their own way: a boy who struggles to understand the choices made by his mother, a banker who thinks of no one but himself, a house keeper who longs for something better but hates to leave her old life behind, a creature who must fulfill a promise, and a researcher who feels deceived by those he once trusted.

Bran Hambric is a riveting tale of urban fantasy, a blend of old magic and modern conveniences. In a city where gnomes and mages are not allowed, a dark magic exists somewhere between body and spirit. It is a place where the answers are not always straightforward, not always black and white, but sometimes a silvery gray like the crescent of a moon.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

*A special thanks to Sourcebooks for asking me to read and review an advanced copy of the novel. Look for my interview with Kaleb Nation to be posted on my site tomorrow, September 1st.

Other Web sites involved in the Bran Hambric blog tour:

Sunday, August 30th

Jenn’s Bookshelf
Homespun Light

Monday, August 31st
Dolce Bellezza
Bobbi’s Book Nook

Tuesday, September 1st

The Looking Glass Review
Beth Fish Reads
SMS Book Reviews
James Holder’s YouTube Channel

Wednesday, September 2nd
Reading Rumpus
Katie’s Literature Lounge
Ultimate Bookhound

Thursday, September 3rd

Brimful Curiosities
Charlotte’s Library

Friday, September 4th
Bran Hambric by Kaleb Nation

Saturday, September 5th

Library Lounge Lizard
Sarah’s Random Musings

Sunday, September 6th

Cindy’s Love of Books

Monday, September 7th

Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf
Grasping for the Wind
Life After Twilight vlog channel

Tuesday, September 8th

Shooting Stars Magazine
Mrs. Magoo Reads
Lori Calabrese Writes

Wednesday, September 9th

The Brain Lair
The Children’s Book Review
TV Watch Online

Thursday, September 10th

The Friendly Book Nook
Book Journey
Stephanie’s Written Word
Home School Buzz

Friday, September 11th

The Inside Scoop With Chandelle
Booking Mama

Saturday, September 12th

Zoe’s Book Reviews
Lit for Kids

Sunday, September 13th

Never Jam Today
A Bibliophile’s Reverie

Monday, September 14th

Café of Dreams
Marta’s Meanderings
A Book Blogger’s Diary
The Reader’s Quill

Tuesday, September 15th

a book in hand
Not Just for Kids

Wednesday, September 16th

Write for a Reader

Thursday, September 17th

Howling Good Books
The Written World

Friday, September 18th

Always Riddikulus
YA Books Central

Saturday, September 19th

Ms. Bookish
Into the Wardrobe

6 thoughts on “Review of Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Kaleb Nation”

  1. This sounds like an interesting book, and it hits that ever-elusive target audience of middle-grade fantasy-reading boys. Wow. Kudos to Nation.

    I thought the beginning sounded a bit Harry Potterish (a boy begrudgingly taken in and forced to lead a separate life from the rest of his adoptive family, meanwhile he has secret powers that some are seeking him for, etc.) But I have to admit, after reading the whole review, I do want to know why those people are after him. I wonder if this is a standalone book or part of an intended series?

    Rachel Heston Davis
    Up and Writing

  2. Rachel,

    This is the first book in a series by Kaleb Nation. I’m not sure when the next book will be released or how many books are planned for the series though. The actual official release date of the first book is September 9th, which is next Wednesday.

  3. this book reminds me of a big toe which had green icing on it. overall it is a very bad book 0.8/10. I read it 10 years ago and it gave me a migrane.

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