After his father’s death, fourteen year old Devon March is sent to his new home in New England — the huge and forbidding mansion Ravenscliff, that all the townspeople he meets on his way warn him against travelling to. But Devon is not as afraid of his future as others in his shoes would be: he knows he is gifted with a special power, a power that protected him from the very real demons and monsters that he had dwelling in his cupboard and under his bed as a child. Now, he seeks to find who he is, and why such things happen to him, for on his death bed, his father claimed he was not his biological father. Guided by the calm and powerful Voice in his head, that grants to him his own brand of magic, Devon is eager to begin his investigation.
At Ravenscliff are a host of intriguing characters waiting for him — the glamorous Mrs Crandall, his new guardian, who undoubtably knows more than she’s saying, and her daughter Cecily, in whom Devon hopes to find a friend. As well as this is the unfriendly manservant Simon and Mrs Crandell’s nephew Alexander— a violent and disfunctional boy who spends all his time watching a replusive clown on the television and seems to both hate and like Devon. And on top of all this is Old Mrs Crandell, the somewhat senile old woman who’s spent several years in her bedroom, seeing no one but her daughter.
And outside the grim seaside mansion is the elusive figure of Rolfe Montaigne, who has a connection to the house’s secrets and the death of two young people several years before. Mystery piles up upon mystery as Devon learns of the many ghosts of the house — the weeping Emily Muir, the sad and tragic Horatio Muir, and the wicked Jackson Muir, whom Devon begins to suspect has a hold over the eight year old Alexander, who at times certainly seems like a boy possessed. And then some of the truth concerning his own destiny arises — he is part of the Order of the Nightwing, a powerful sect of sorcerers, a group of people chosen to be guardians over Hellholes: gateways from our world into hell. It is this newfound heritage that Devon will have to learn to master if he’s to triumph over the hold Jackson Muir now has over the house…
Though many other reviewers have pointed out the similarities between Sorcerers of the Nightwing and Harry Potter (ie, a young boy with a great destiny, deceased parents, remarkable powers, and so on) I found it to be more along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially in the use of the Hellholes, which basically translate into Buffy’s Hellmouth. However, readers who like either one of these series will probably like Nightwing, if they are prepared for a darker, more Gothic look into the world of magic and heroics. There were a couple of things that I didn’t quite like — Devon felt more like a seventeen year old than a fourteen year old, and often supporting characters didn’t feel quite consistent in their motivations and personalities. Furthermore, by the end of the book I was heartily sick of the phrases “dark secrets,” “hidden past,” and “they know more than they’re letting on,” as all three of them are used virtually on every page. I felt like yelling: “I get it! It’s mysterious! Move on, already!”
However, it sustained my interest well enough to be enthusiastic about further exploration into Devon’s past and the uncovering of the several secrets left unresolved (such as his parentage, the gravestones, the pentagram on Marcus’s forehead, Emily Muir’s role, and the history of the Nightwings), and Geoffrey Huntington has a master stroke at representing youth and relationships realistically. Despite the somewhat clichéd setting of a dark-and-spooky-manor-with-thunderstorms-outside, Huntington manages to pull it off through his elegant writing, making it seem like a real place, fill of its own history. Overall, not utterly intoxicating, but certainly not boring, and as such I’m looking forward to reading Demon Witch.
Ravenscliff — (2002-2003) Ages 9-12. The third Ravenscliff novel will be called Blood Moon. Publisher: Every kid fears the monsters in the closet — but for Devon March, the monsters are all too real. Horrible things come slithering out across his floor, determined to drag him with them back down their Hellhole. But Devon is no ordinary young man. He can move objects with his mind, summon incredible strength, disappear at will — and that’s only what he has discovered he’s capable of so far. Yet his powers — and the demons in his closet — remain for him unexplained mysteries. At fourteen, Devon is sent to live at Ravenscliff, a dark seaside mansion, where he learns the first part of the secret of his powers: he is a sorcerer of the Order of the Nightwing, a three-thousand-year-old tradition of mysticism and magic that fascinates Devon with its fabled history. But Devon’s new family, the Muirs, forbids him from discovering any more about his heritage, inexplicably terrified of what that knowledge might bring. At Ravenscliff, Devon must contend not only with the demons but with a strange, precocious eight-year-old boy who may prove to be the link to the most fearful demon of all: the Madman, who wants to unleash the creatures of the Hellhole for his own malevolent gain. Ravenscliff is built over one of the largest Hellholes in the world, and the uninitiated Devon must fight off the demons with the help of his new friends from Misery Point High — including the dazzling Cecily Crandall, raised at Ravenscliff and the holder of a few secrets herself.