Target audience: 9+
The Septimus Heap Series
Book 1: Magyk
Book 2: Flyte
Book 3: Physik
Book 4: Queste
The following overview of Syren is taken www.septimusheap.com. It is a wonderfully interactive site.
Septimus ends up on a captivating beautiful island. He’s stranded there with his badly injured dragon, Spit Fyre, along with Jenna and Beetle. There are some strange things about the island, including a Magykal girl named Syrah, a lighthouse that has lost its Light, and an eerie presence that sings to Septimus – can he escape the persistent call?
Trouble is also brewing for Lucy and Wolf Boy, who have become entangle with nefarious sailors at sea, and for Milo Banda, Jenna’s father, who is harboring a mysterious treasure chest in his ship’s hold...
NB: I read the US copy of the book which was kindly sent to me by Newman Communications.
Syren continues from the moment where Queste ends. I highly recommend that you read Queste before embarking on this book. At this point in the series, you really do need to know the characters to truly enjoy it. Syren is over 600 pages long and although the words are well spaced on the page, the book is still a long read.
As the overview says, Septimus, Jenna and Beetle find themselves stranded on a strange and beautiful island that holds a deadly secret. Meanwhile Wolf Boy is untaking his own mission and happens to run into the rather annoying Lucy Gringe. Syren follows the two separate stories (as is the pattern of the previous books) and they come together as the novel progresses. In this novel we meet more new characters and see the development of other background characters like Lucy from the earlier books.
The novel begins with Septimus safely back in the Wizard Tower. The magical world of Septimus's home is my favourite part of the series. I love the Manuscriptorium, the Wizard Way and the Castle. This is Sage's distinct fantasy landscape and it is enchanting. We also see Aunt Zelda out in the Marram Marshes with Wolf Boy and the development of his role in the coming novels.
Sadly, I really struggled to get through the middle of the novel. Sage creates her world with so much detail that the plot became stagnant at times and made me rather frustrated. I can't help but feel like there are just too many characters populating these books. The scenes in the port were in my frank opinion rather boring. To illustrate my point regarding the slow pace of the plot, the Syren from where the title of the book is taken does not make an appearance until past page 400.
Thankfully, the book picks up pace from this point onward and I really enjoyed the end of the novel. When the two stories finally come together the action unfolds at a fast pace and is gripping reading. I have to say I was slightly disappointed that Sage did not include the scene where Jim Knee follows Septimus's most important command. I don't want to give too much away. Surfice to say, I had been reading about his sense of foreboding for over a hundred pages and then it was resolved in a couple of sentences.
I love the first three books in the series and highly recommend them for fans of Harry Potter. They are very different books but have the wonderful charm of learning to be a wizard. Queste and Syren are almost one super long book. I liked them but did not enjoy them as much as the others. I wish Sage would use the world she has created with the Wizard Tower more and stop taking her characters on ridiculously long journeys. Sometimes less is more. Overall, if you like this series, you should read Syren and like me keep your fingers crossed that the next book focuses more on Septimus's fascinating magical education.