Children of the Knight by Michael Bowler

four stars

michaelThe metropolis of Los Angeles is in big trouble – drugs, violence, and decay plague its streets, and an epidemic of discarded children perpetuates the cycle of crime and dereliction. The adults of the City of Angels are not any help – corruption in the government, police force, and school system only feeds the problem. Homeless loner Lance is adrift in this world, until he meets the legendary King Arthur, who has reappeared to create a new contemporary Californian Camelot in Michael J. Bowler’s Children of the Knight. With Lance recruited as the First Knight of Arthur’s new round table, the two will find unlikely heroes in the unwanted youth of the city and wage a new crusade for rejuvenation and against social injustice through acts of noble insurrection.

Bowler has a distinct writing style and approach to young adult themes, and fans of his other work will instantly feel right at home with this urban fairytale. There is a versatility to Bowler’s imagination that allows the fantastical scenario to breathe and feel real, and his language is flexible while always remaining true to its distinct voice – Bowler’s fluid narration seamlessly reflects the backgrounds, thoughts, and personalities of a host of diverse characters. An insistent and occasionally incorrect usage of older period English may irk some readers, but largely adds a special flavor to Bowler’s relatable fantasy world. Children of the Knight is chock full of action and adventure, but its greatest asset is its depth of emotion and bold confrontation of its urgent themes. Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure, Children of the Knight importantly examines and offers a solution to the systemic injustices that affect people across the trajectories of human experience. Bowler addresses a number of serious topical issues head-on – from child abuse, to the corruption of public and government institutions, to the gaze of the media, to the troubled production and commercialization of contemporary American youth culture – to make an inspired and impassioned message promoting the need of equality and fraternity in healthy communities, and the importance of pride, self-acceptance, and faith in healthy individuals. While some of Bowler’s points become a bit belabored and other ideas and characters can seem to fall to the wayside, Children of the Knight is an overwhelmingly imaginative, rich, and exciting experience that is sure to open hearts and minds as easily as it thrill and enchants.

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