T.J. Akers describes The Final Paladin as “urban fantasy.” I would amend that to historical urban fantasy given that its real-world setting takes place at the turn of the 20th century.
Filled with crusaders, murders, a mysterious key, and a host of fantastical creatures, I recommend this YA novel for older readers of the genre. While no explicit blood and gore is splashed on the pages, the tensions and the complicated twists of the plot will appeal to adults as well as teens.
(from the back cover): Life for Peg Bowman is rough in the infamous slums of Five Points, New York, but her brother’s murder changes everything.
Thrust into incredible worlds beyond any story she’s ever heard, Peg meets Sir Godfrey, an eleven hundred year old knight from Charlemagne’s court, trainer of Paladins. He reveals to Peg her family’s ancient obligation to protect the Key of Apollyon, a relic of immense power. She is the last descendant of the Paladins and his only hope for keeping it safe.
When Godfrey confides her brother was murdered because of the Key, Peg rejects her calling and demands revenge, a luxury she can ill afford as otherworldly creatures seek her death to claim the Key’s power for themselves.
Can Godfrey and his faithful retinue–Chim the Hobgoblin, Rebecca the Jewish maven and healer, and Jack the sometimes human and sometimes seven-foot black dog–keep her safe and convince her that her calling is worth pursuing? Or will she succumb to the Key’s lure and wield it for revenge?
I don’t usually go for the “tantalizing final question” on a book jacket blurb, but this one is good. It’s not rhetorical, and I really didn’t know the answer before reading the novel.
1. Plenty of action in a fantasy world keeps readers on their toes.
2. Akers challenges the readers’ deductive skills as they try to unravel the clues which could help Peg fulfill her duty as the final Paladin.
Some parents may not want their teens exposed to legendary creatures of darkness. I find the story too dark for my taste, which is why I’ve recommended it for older readers.
1. Define “Paladin.”
2. Why is Jack sometimes in human form and sometimes in dog form?
3. What happened in Peg’s early childhood that allowed her to meet the challenges presented by Sir Godfrey?
If you or your child like dark fantasy with Christian values camouflaged within the plot, you’ll like The Final Paladin.