Poor Edmund Bale…..all he wants to do is read, practice a little magic, and get the girl. But he is the eldest son of a tavern-keeper and must learn to inherit that trade. Therefore, books are only useful as kindling and the girl sees him as just a friend. Ah, but maybe Edmund can prove himself to her!
Strange things are happening in Edmund’s village. A wizard visits the tavern, yet no one remembers him after they encounter him. Pigs go missing and just their pile of bones are discovered. There are whisperings of the Nethergrim’s return. But that’s impossible, isn’t it? The heroes, Tristan, John Marshall (father of Edmund’s crush Katherine), and Vithric the wizard, defeated it and saved the village Moorvale years before. Edmund’s pain-in-the-neck little brother and equally pain-in-the-neck friends disappear into the hands of the Nethergrim’s monster servants, and while the village almost mourns them for dead, Edmund, Katherine, and slave-no-more Tom set out to save them from the returned horror that is The Nethergrim.
Matthew Jobin’s The Nethergrim sets the stage for a nice little YA fantasy series. This Book 1 feels like a book 1 in its setup, while including a complete tale. Although likened to a Harry Potter or Narnia series (rightly so because of the magical and fantastical heroic aspects), the Nethergrim itself is reminiscent of the creature in Stephen King’s It, an ancient evil living in the bowels of the earth able to take any form and infiltrate the mind, living off the life force of children. There is no Pennywise to give you sleepless nights (not yet!), but the potential is frightening enough. Jobin’s unlikely hero, Edmund, is a real underdog. He can barely ride a horse, cannot shoot a straight arrow, passes out from spells, and yet he doesn’t think twice about riding into danger. This is a boy everyone will root for and this is a boy everyone will read for.