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The Prince of Two Tribes by S. Cullen

Cullen, Sean. The Prince of Two Tribes. Toronto: Puffin Canada. 2010. Print.

Brendan is an ordinary teenager. Or at least he thought he was until he discovered he was a Faerie adopted as an infant into a human family with powers he can barely control and expectations to participate in life-and-death skirmishes between the forces of good and evil. Fortunately he has a few close friends to help him – some his own age and some the very elite of Faerie world who believe he has the power to bring the world back to rights if nurtured properly but without actually knowing too much until the right time. Of course, his is ultimately a lonely path with mysterious connections to the other side he won’t share even with his friends and mentors.  He also has an annoying half-sister. Oh, and it turns out the Faerie world overlaps significantly with the human world although we are blissfully unaware most of the time.

The above was largely revealed in Book One of the Chronicles of the Misplaced Prince (a.k.a The Prince of Neither Here Nor There) and grudgingly summarised (official complaint to the “Narrators’ Grievance Committee” pending) in an introductory note to this volume (i.e. Book Two). It is not-so-gently suggested, in said introductory note, that the first book should be required reading before continuing. However,  as the cover gives little indication this is Book Two of something, a reader might be excused for unwittingly starting in the middle.  Fortunately, the author seems inherently unable to resist the additional role of narrator so the story is littered (or, more generously, “strategically sprinkled”) with additional information in the form of introductory notes, footnotes, and chapter introductions.

Getting back to the actual story…, it sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it? A little Harry Potter-ish, perhaps? Indeed, there are many similarities, but enough difference to set it apart. One obvious difference is a Canadian comedian as author. This is significant. The author’s voice comes through strongly not only the thorough footnotes and explanatory additions but also the almost overly-obvious Toronto setting; the language,  conversations, and daily concerns of young teenagers in Canada; the underlying comedic sense;  and, one might surmise but without any real evidence other than the author’s age, the youthful influences of Gordon Korman novels, Barenaked Ladies songs (e.g. Grade 9), and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

But I digress (although not unlike the novel itself)[1]. In this instalment, Brendan must prepare physically and mentally for a “proving” ceremony; he has no idea what this entails except that it could prove deadly to himself. In addition, he must deal with the teenage angst of having secrets he thinks no one else could possibly understand as well as an ever-looming Social Studies group presentation assignment. Exciting throughout and lump-in-the-throat emotional at the end. I hate to play along with the “boys don’t like to read so you have to trick them into it” stereotype but, if it were true, this one would likely “trick” them (having never been a teenage girl, I’m no expert, but I suspect many girls might like it, too).

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: David Sulz

[1] I’ve tried to capture somewhat the tone of the novel in this review; if you like this style of writing, you might like the book (and vice versa).

David is a librarian at the University of Alberta working mostly with scholars in Economics, Religious Studies, and Social Work. His university studies included: Library Studies, History, Elementary Education, Japanese, and Economics. On the education front, he taught various grades and subjects for several years in schools as well as museums. His interest in Japan and things Japanese stands above his other diverse interests.