Welcome to one of the October 6th book two review stops on the blog tour for the Sebastian and Melissa series by Victoria Walker, organized by The Audiobookworm Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, audio excerpts, guest posts, and more from both current titles in this series, The Winter of Enchantment and The House Called Hadlows.
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About the Book
The House Called Hadlows
Sebastian and Melissa Book Two
by Victoria Walker
Narrated by Kim Bretton
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Page Count: 146
Audio Length: 5 hr 34 min
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
The sequel to The Winter of Enchantment and the return of Mantari the magic cat.
Sebastian and Melissa would never forget their arrival at the house called Hadlows. The long drive through the neglected park and woodland, the lake glimpsed through trees, the house, with its “thousand windows” looking down on them and the great hall, empty but for the portraits covering the walls. Hadlows held a secret, of that they were sure.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Narrator’s Performance: 4 out of 5 stars
Story: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
What drew me to this title was a review quote by Neil Gaiman, and I later discovered that he wrote a whole blog post in praise of this book. Knowing that he loved it was all I needed to know! I promptly requested a review spot on the tour for the Sebastian and Melissa books with The Audiobookworm Promotions. (Thank you to all involved for this opportunity. My thoughts are my own and my review is completely honest.) Now that I’ve finished this book I’m not at all surprised that Neil Gaiman loved this book, as it reminds me so much of his own work.
The House Called Hadlows is a charming Middle-Grade Fantasy Adventure set in the UK. Following their adventures in book one, Sebastian and Melissa arrive at a house called Hadlows where they are to board with their aunt and uncle. It quickly becomes apparent to the pair of children that paranormal things are happening here, and soon they’re tangled up in a series of magical quests to set things right and restore Hadlows and its inhabitants, both living and deceased. They end up trading off, each going on different quests one after another, on missions that transport them through time and space and put them shoulder to shoulder with gods, kings, and a variety of other interesting characters.
At times some of the characters and adventures reminded me of C. S. Lewis’s work in general and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in particular. Although this title is the second book in a series, much like The Chronicles of Narnia it reminded me of, it absolutely can be read and enjoyed without first reading the previous book.
I received a review copy of the new audiobook recording, narrated by Kim Bretton and released in July 2020. Kim Bretton’s narration is entertaining and easy to listen to. I listened at 1.5x speed, which is my normal audiobook playback preference, and found it felt a little fast. Listeners who prefer a slow narrator may be tempted to slightly decrease playback speed. I enjoyed the accents used for some of the characters encountered on the children’s’ adventures, but question why the character Pan (a Greek God and the origin of the term pandemonium) was performed with a thick Scottish brogue.
About the Author
Victoria Walker was twenty-one when she wrote The Winter of Enchantment in 1968. A second story about Sebastian and Melissa, The House Called Hadlows, was published in 1972. In 1973 she went to Cambridge University to read English and married immediately after finishing her degree. Two children followed and two decades passed before she began to write under her married name of Victoria Clayton. She lives with her husband in Northamptonshire.
About the Narrator
Kim Bretton Kim is an accomplished and award winning actress and director with West End/Broadway theatre credits. Kim has narrated over 60 audiobooks and counting. She is also an in demand voice over talent in the commercial and corporate arena and owns her own class A recording studio in Nashville. Kim is from the UK but has lived in NYC, L.A. and now Nashville TN. She continues to work in Theatre, Film and TV as an actress and a director alongside narrating audiobooks and commercial voice overs.
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