The Children Of Pisces: Book One, The Two Pendants by R E Lewin (book review).

There are any number of lockdown stories but this one has a twist. R(achel) E Lewin had two lively, intelligent youngsters to entertain. In desperation, she rediscovered the books she had written some years before. The children loved them and, as a result, she decided to publish them. This is the first of the series, ‘The Children Of Pisces: The Two Pendants’.

The setting is 2070s Britain. We already know that Sarah had abandoned her children with people she could trust and protect them from others who wanted to find them. In the intervening twelve years, a virus called Pisces has greatly reduced the population of the world, both animal and human. Remember, this was written before Covid.

This volume introduces Tammy and Mikie, children abandoned by Sarah. Tammy was left on the steps of an orphanage where conditions are fairly basic, while Mikie was left with Sarah’s half-brother, Stephen. Both were left with a crystal pendant and a letter saying their father would claim them when they were thirteen. It soon becomes apparent that the children are not ordinary. Tammy has an affinity with animals which only really becomes apparent when the students visit Vivacity Island, a safari park where the animals have somehow escaped the ravages of the plague. Ed and Jude Brunswick, who own the sanctuary, recognise there is something special about Tammy and decide to adopt her. Once she arrives at her new home, the extent of her talents begins to emerge more fully.

Mikie’s talents are very different. He is able to read minds and actually take over to influence the actions of others. This has got him into a lot of trouble as he doesn’t always recognise the difference between what it fun and what is cheating. It is his sense of justice, protecting a friend from bullies, that causes Stephen to decide home schooling is the best approach.

Both the children are being hunted by seekers, drones with facial recognition, and Tammy realises that her pendant glows red when there is danger around. By the end of this novel, the siblings have a number of adventures and discovered that there are another brother and sister in equal danger.

The pre-teens that this series is aimed at will enjoy the ride and readily fall in with the idea of the youngsters not only discovering their powers, sharing the dangers and discovering their new relationship. Young readers will love and envy the freedom and friendships Tammy and Mikie develop. The flaws in this novel and there are some will not worry them.

It is always a bonus if young readers can learn something while enjoying themselves. This element is present, though these passages tend to be a little long and interfere with the action. The older reader may well be suspicious of some of the assertions. Early on in the novel, it is explained that most of the animals died from the Pisces Plague, except those on Vivacity Island which was protected by a virus-proof shield. The intention was to repopulate the animal kingdom from breeding programmes on the island and releasing them into original habitats. Not enough time has elapsed to build up the numbers required. When Tammy goes to Africa, the range and number of species seems undiminished from now, yet we are led to believe that the virus was an extinction event. With such an ecological disaster, the Japanese would never have been permitted to resume whaling, a situation that Tammy, Mikie and their new friend, Jax, set out to resolve.

There are times when the technology hasn’t quite caught up with the present when there should have been more extrapolation, such as Ed Brunswick still reading physical newspapers.

The book could have benefitted from polishing as there are some repetitions of information and there is a frequent change of point of view even within the same paragraph, something that greatly annoys many adult readers. However, this is the kind of book that would have great appeal in graphic format or as an animation.

Pauline Morgan

May 2023

(pub: Matador, Leics, UK, 2022. 350 page paperback. Price: £10.99. ISBN: 978-1-80313-092-7)

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