CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 12. . . .November 25, 2016
Oldenglen is the first novel by Robin and Michael Mason and is the first in a series, “The Oldenglen Chronicles”. Oldenglen starts with 12-year-old Jackson Wolfe and his parents arriving at their new home in a remote, forested corner of Oregon after moving from England. They are renting an old house, surrounded by wilderness, from local landowners, Mr and Mrs Farley. Initially Jackson hates everything about this move. He misses his friends and his old home in England, and he hates the old house in Oregon and the isolation of the surrounding wilderness. When Jackson begins to tentatively explore his surroundings, he changes his mind about the forest when he finds a secluded glen with a stone, the Gladestone, that gives him the power to communicate with the forest animals. Soon Jackson is joined by Sarah, the Farley’s visiting granddaughter, and Jackson and Sarah discover that the Gladestone intends for them to work with the animals to save the glade and the forest from the destruction of land developers, led by Sarah’s own grandfather.
The plotting of the novel is uneven. The first half of the book is very slow, to the point of being boring, as very little happens beyond Jackson’s being introduced to a series of talking animals with various personality quirks. It’s only in the second half of the novel that Jackson meets Sarah and the two of them discover her grandfather’s plan to raze the forest and the magical glen and build hundreds of houses. The plot picks up when Jackson, Sarah and the glen’s animals begin to take action to stop the construction.
Oldenglen has a strong message for environmental conservation, though it suffers from uneven plotting and characters that are little more than exaggerated stereotypes. Elements of the book are interesting and original, but it is not an essential addition to a library.
Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.