I was duped into reading this book. Plain and simple. I was not alone. However, the warning bells didn't start to go off until I was already past halfway. The fact of the matter is, there are sock puppets promoting this book on Goodreads, and I feel like we need some honest reviews up there (and elsewhere in the reading community) to even the score. I sacrificed myself for you all.
To be honest, after the rage-inducing September Girls, I really didn't think it could get any worse. I thought that 0 orange rating was a one-and-only-time thing. I stand corrected. Now at first glance, if you have not yet heard about the shitstorm of drama surrounding this book, you're probably like, "Oh, that sounds harsh. Be fair, Debby. It's her debut." And to that I say, NO.
Here's what it boils down to. Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock (embarrassingly displaying a grammatical error on the cover) is plagiarism. It is 95% Harry Potter. Now some of you, with a more naive purer heart than me, probably think that's an exaggeration. That, particularly in the world of fantasy literature, novels almost always influence each other in certain ways. That I'm probably overreacting because Harry Potter remains my favorite series of all time. And to you, I say,
Let me talk you through it. At the beginning, it did not feel like a carbon copy, I'll give you that. Adela is a teen in the modern world, just going through high school, when one day she learns about a world on the other side of mirrors. In fact, a chimera escapes from that world and into her own and kills one of her peers. So far, so good. The writing itself was a bit amateurish, but it being a debut, I was understanding of that.
Then, things changed. After the death of Wilhelmina (and seriously at the names in this book), Adela learns about this world, Cielieu. Basically, the world consists of all manner of magical creatures, and she is one herself - a Volsin! SURPRISE. This means that in theory she would be able to control light. Whoohoo. However, the Volsin escaped from that world and into the non-magical world, because they were being hunted down by an evil dude, called Lord Voldemort Prince Delapeur. (SERIOUSLY. DELAPEUR. VOLDEMORT. I'LL JUST LEAVE THAT UP HERE FOR YOU.) (For those with no French knowledge, Voldemort - vol de mort = stealing from death; Delapeur - de la peur = of the fear.)
Now, why, you might ask. Why is this guy terrorizing everyone? Well now it becomes apparent that solid worldbuilding was not one of the goals in Adela Arthur and the Vaguey Vagueness. Power. That's a good enough reason, right? That's what's put out there at the beginning of the book, and never does it alter along the way. One dimensional villains, check. Prince Delapeur hunts down Volsin and strips them of their light, effectively killing them and absorbing their power for his own. And he killed Adela's parents. Oh and the other thing about Delapeur?
"We do not say his name here. We wouldn't want to give him that pleasure."
"There is this myth that he actually becomes stronger each time you say his name. He wants us to say it often and with as much fear as possible." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Hmm. That faintly rings a bell. Adela has a vision of Delapeur killing another Volsin, and then for some totally inexplicable reason, decides that it's best for her to travel to the magical world. Despite how her parents pretty much sacrificed themselves to bring her to safety. She feels like she needs to save the world. Or something. I dunno, even that wasn't explained well enough. So I was questioning it at this point, didn't see why she would go there (together with her bookworm best friend Hermione Hector), but I thought, okay, it'll be some kind of epic adventure thing.
Okay, this one's on me, and I should have read the synopsis better, but they cross into Cielieu and then... go to school. ..Yeah, no, go to the extremely dangerous world, and THEN start from scratch learning about your new magical powers. Much more logical than staying in the relative safety of the real world where your grandfather could mentor you. But I digress. They go to school! What's their school like? It's a castle. A magical boarding school. The students, Volsin, are split into four different, hmm, houses, shall we say, according to their type of light. The four are: Sapphire Falls, Emerald Dens, Golden Hives, and Red Diamonds.
Those colors look familiar, you say? Hmm, wouldn't know why. In case you're wondering, Golden Hives = Gryffindor, Red Diamonds = Slytherin, Emerald Dens = Ravenclaw, Sapphire Falls = Hufflepuff. Shuffling around the colors makes it not be plagiarism right? Even though the personalities are still pretty much the same? No? Oh. Okay.
As you may expect, Adela is a *gasp* Golden Hive. And for the rest, about this school:
"Before everything happened, you had to be at least eleven to enter the Castle of Light." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
But this light magic makes no sense, and the worldbuilding around it is terrible. Obviously, we couldn't have had wands and regular witch/wizard magic. So Volsin have light in one of four colors according to their true nature, which sorts them into their houses. What can this magic do? Apparently, almost everything but it makes no sense. They can create arrows out of light, and attack that way (because, you know, light has physical properties), and they can create discs out of light on which they can then stand and float away. But some people also have additional, special powers, that are not related to light at all - like that Adela can see the future, and Jeremy can read peoples memories. It's extremely confusing, and all throughout the book, it felt like at any moment, some new magical power or property could appear, all at the author's convenience. But clearly, we're not meant to question any of it. I think Adela herself says it best.
Adela would have questioned how they'd gotten the tree in there, but she remembered that she was currently flying on a disc of light and about to go to a magical dining hall where the scenery changed daily. It had taken a lot of effort to stop questioning the things she once thought were impossible. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
The teachers in this school are referred to as Lords and Ladies. Because, you know, Professor would almost make you associate this book with Harry Potter, and we can't have that. The headmaster is Lord Elderberry, full name being Elwin Alfred Carnell Alvar Elderberry V. Nothing like Dumbledore at all, no. I mean, here, let's look at some dialogue to prove it:
"Even one light in the dark is helpful," lord Elderberry stated as the star-covered ceiling above them dimmed until only one solitary star remained. "And when there are thousands of lights in the darkness, you forget there is darkness at all." With each one of his words, another few stars among the thousands began to shine brighter. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
"Hope, even in the darkest of times, is something you may find strength and comfort in." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Lord Elderberry frowned. "Prince Delapeur. His name is Prince Delapeur, and if you feel so adamant about your cause, you should not fear saying his name. He is a Volsin with power that no one can understand. What we cannot understand, we fear, and that is how he gets his power, because we all give him fear to feed upon." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
I digress. But, hmm, Adela should have a nemesis from an opposing house too, right? Yeah. Let's just, for the hell of it, make her a Red Diamond. Cue the introduction scene.
"I am Scarlet Danewort of the Red Diamonds, and I wanted to personally welcome you, on behalf of all the Diamonds, to the Elpida Castle of Light. Our families were close, and I believe you would like to spend time with a light of higher stature." She sneered toward Fallanita with the last part of her statement before smiling at Adela once again.
Adela had to hold Fallanita's arm with one hand, gripping her books with the other, in order to keep her from attacking the beautiful blonde. "Thank you, but I think I'll just sit with the Golden Hives." Adela smiled politely. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Anyway, so Adela's starting out at school, and the plot line disappears. She's going to classes, and the amateur writing kicks it up a notch. It was extremely hard to follow, because often, without any explanation being given, a new chapter would start out months after the previous chapter. And that would only become apparent halfway through the chapter when they reference a previous event and noted that it was a couple months ago. ... Okay...? But anyway. This school is so original, I mean, they have birds carrying messages, totally original uniforms, the Forbidden Stygian Forest, moving pictures, screaming books, and a sport that everyone's obsessed with and they have interhouse competitions in. What, you don't believe me?
"Message for miss Arthur," the bird sang so softly Adela almost missed it.
"I accept," Adela replied. The baby Roc froze and plucked out one of its own feathers and let it fall to the ground before flying out the window, leaving red shimmers in its wake.
Fallanita picked up the feather before it touched the ground and handed it to Adela. The moment Adela's hands came in contact with the feather, a familiar voice rang out clearly. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
She could handle the white button-down shirt, the gray sweater, and the sweater vest with the letters GH embroidered on the breast. What she couldn't handle was the skirt. [...] Adela grabbed her white cloak, seamlessly perfect by a suitor elf. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
"Stygian Forest?" Hector hissed though his teeth. "How in the world did we get in the one place we're never supposed to go in?" -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
When she first opened the white book, she didn't find anything odd. That was until she touched one of the pictures. The minute she did, the image leaped off the page and came to life over the book, like a movie. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
She opened her book and a shrill scream erupted, causing her to squeal in return. She snapped it shut. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
See, if we take the essence of Harry Potter, but then go BEYOND that, it's probably not really plagiarism. Right? No? Okay. Let's focus on the last thing I named in a bit more detail: the school sport. It's called Natorbi. (Quidditch was taken.)
They were all starry-eyed by Natorbi, reminding her of Fallanita. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
"If all the lights are equal and none is better than others are, then why do the Red Diamonds think they're superior?" Adela frowned.
"They have been the Natorbi champions since, like, forever," Fallanita complained angrily. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Okay, but so, we can't have Natorbi resembling Quidditch. The sport, however, is part of the shoddy worldbuilding. It's absolutely full of shit. It's an underwater sport, apparently. They take some kind of breathing pill so that they... can breathe. Adela literally gets onto the team, before even really knowing anything about the sport, by simply swimming to the bottom of this ball of water and then swimming through a ring. She set a record. Yep. To be fair, the ring is apparently spinning and for some magical reason, Adela just knows what to do to figure out the rate of spinning and when it's safe to cross. But yeah, she's just so special. Why?
"Your mom was Natorbi champion all four years! She won the Natorbi cup her twelfth year, and the Golden Hives have not won again since she left." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Let's just take a moment there to consider four years -- twelfth year, whaaaat in the world. Oh and they're allowed to enter the school when they're eleven. This is more of the shoddy worldbuilding I was talking about. Okay, now resume about how Adela is a legacy.
"Don't be nervous. It's in your blood." Elthin smiled, giving her a pat on the back and adding himself to the long line of people who kept reminding her how great her mother was. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
For the rest, this sport was extremely hard to understand, but from what I gather, they're in teams of five, and the game starts with them swimming to the bottom and through their own rings. After that, there's a ball or something that they're only allowed to kick with their feet, and they have to try to get that through the other team's rings, whilst defending their own. Balls through rings. Nope, this is nothing like Quidditch. Well, due to it being underwater, it can apparently defy the laws of physics, and that's new.
The moment he kicked, Adela stole the momentum from the speed, flipping forward and kicking the ball straight into the golden ring. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Adela realized the ball went in the opposite direction it was kicked. [...] Adela swam up and kicked left, sending the ball spinning right. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
By this logic, I would have to assume that if she kicks the ball forward, it would go backward. ...Which is interesting. I doubt that was the author's intention, but by this point, I'm way too aggravated to spend even 5 minutes trying to figure this out. Oh and during the one game we see played during the book? Adela faints. Nothing like Harry Potter at all.
At 80%, we're reminded that, oh yeah, there's a plot. And I mean, aside from the one-dimensional baddy passively lurking around in the shadows. Long story short: since Adela crossed into Cielieu, everyone's been impressed by her because she's supposedly the one who can beat Delapeur. Why? We don't know. They never literally say prophecy, but most likely, that's what it is. So when they hear Adela Arthur, everyone just gasps and stuff. Her parents were apparently some of the most powerful Volsin in the world, so that could be part of it. Just. Yeah. She's the chosen one.
Anyway, when he absorbed the light of his last victim, Delapeur (I'm rolling my eyes each time I type his name, fyi) gained the power to somehow penetrate the minds of other Volsin. ... That doesn't sound too familiar. Since he knows Adela has returned to Cielieu, and he knows she's rumored to be able to beat him, he wants to hunt her down. So he penetrates her mind and threatens her and stuff. This happens over Christmas and she's terrified, and the teachers are concerned, so...
"If I were going to make you feel better, I would tell you Lord Aspen is very good with mind defense. That's why Lord Elderberry wants Lady Fern to take over his classes next semester so he can teach you." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Special... mind.. defense... classes... *sigh* (And let's not even start about how this professor is apparently dropping ALL his classes to teach her. But then when she shows up a bit late for a lesson he's like, "I'm busy.") But anyway, it's Christmas, and Adela is one of the few students who stays at the castle, while the others go off to their families. Aww. How sad. She doesn't have a family. Luckily, the school is so accomodating, in their magical dining room, they ditched the round house-specific tables for the holiday, and instead...
In the center of the room was now only one large round table where everyone sat together, whether they were Golden Hive, Red Diamond, Sapphire Fall, or Emerald Den. Underneath each tree seemed to be enough presents for everyone on the naughty and nice lists - plus the elves. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Also not at all like Harry Potter. Anyway, specially for the holiday, Adela gets introduced to this magical drink - "a mug of steaming gold liquid", which is called Jumble cider. And then she gets a mysterious gift, a clock, with a note that says:
"Your father found comfort in this. Maybe you shall as well." -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Now, on to the end. After a few months of passively trying to figure out the clock and going through mind defense classes, bizarre things start happening... Adela is ultimately pulled into a maze, where Prince Delapeur is waiting for her with his scary black cloaked supporters. They do battle, and since she's so perfectly awesome, chosen, and special, she somehow calls upon the light of all the Volsin in the world and defeats him. ...for the moment. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNN. Oh and then she faints. And wakes up in the hospital. If that sounds incoherent, trust me, it's not far off. I barely understood what was going on, but by that point, I was too aggravated to care.
The author pulls off a last Hail Mary with some plot twists regarding the true identities of a couple of characters, which is in fact different from Harry Potter, but it came way too late in the game to impress me. I just rolled my eyes, once again. It would set up a sequel that could be way different from Harry Potter, but the world remains the same, and I will not be putting myself through any more of this misery ever again.
On the side of this bizarre and at times totally absent plot, of course, there's an attempt at romance. Even a subtle love triangle, between Adela, her bookish best friend Hermione Hector, and the mysterious and dark guy from the Red Diamonds, Draco Jeremy. The emphasis is on the Jeremy angle, and starts off with a bang, because Jeremy can experience Adela's memories himself if he... kisses her. Isn't that romantic. (And yeah, how does this power work? Where does it come from? How is it related to this whole control over light thing? The world will never know.) Their romance is a bit like:
Jeremy sighed, "If I help you, will you leave me alone?"
"Sure, Jeremy. If you help me I will leave you alone so you can continue brooding and glaring at the world." There was something about Jeremy that brought out the worst in her and she didn't like it. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
With clunky dialogue and scenes totally void of chemistry, my response is the following.
Let's take a look at some of the other brilliant dialogue in this totally not pathetic excuse for a novel.
"Hasn't anyone ever told you not to simply walk into Dragon's Landing?" Lord Myrtus yelled at her. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Adela pretended to be hurt. "Hector Pelleas, you bite your tongue. One is never too old to indulge in the sport of throwing snow."
"Just because you say it with an accent doesn't make it true." He laughed at her. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
Where did it say she was talking in an accent? wtf.
"It's on," he replied.
"Like Donkey Kong," Adela told him, only to have him stare at her oddly. Once again she realized no one else understood her other-side-of-the-mirror humor. -Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock by Judyann McCole
There's a line between being "inspired by" (which the author also completely denies, or, well, tried to) and plagiarizing. Judyann McCole bulldozes that line. With every copied element of Harry Potter, my heart sank further. Towards the end, I was literally rolling my eyes every other page. Even if I would take the blatant copying out of the equation, what we're left with is still a shoddy book with lackluster writing, clunky dialogue, cardboard characters, and some of the worst world building ever. It's Harry Potter without all the spark that made the series as successful as it is today.
But to be clear: the plagiarism is what does it for me. I do, in fact, hate this book. I hate that someone may be making money off of copying our queen, J.K. Rowling. Did you really think you could get away with this? The sock puppets on Goodreads claimed they didn't see the parallels. Well, you would have to be blind, or unable to read, and have absolutely no knowledge of Harry Potter, books or movies, to not see them. They're blatantly obvious. I felt like I was being slapped in the face with them. And it all just pisses me off.
But if this all isn't enough to convince you that you should avoid this book for the rest of your life, there's more drama surrounding it. You've seen me say sock puppets. It goes further than you may expect. Check it out, and be amazed and crushed at the same time, courtesy of Steph at Cuddlebuggery.
For the rest, about this review, bravo if you've read all of it. It is my longest ever. But it was necessary. If it's incoherent, I'm sorry about that, but not sorry enough to fix it. Now that the rage is out of my system, I'd like to move on. If you think I was too harsh, I quite frankly just don't care. I'm honest, this is my reviewing space, and this was my experience with this book.
For heaven's sake, no. Not even if you've never heard of Harry Potter. Just no.