Dr Sylver and the Repository of the Past Dr Sylver and the Repository of the Past
The Sylver Chronicles Book II

Paul Kercal
ISBN 9781897913772 (189791377X)
Highland Books, 2006

Category: Fiction
Subcategory: Teenage & Children's
Reviewed by: Phil Groom

Dr Sylver and the Library of Everything (DSLE) left us — actually, I'm not going to tell you where it left us: that would spoil the plot for anyone who hasn't read it yet. If that's you, sorry: you're reading the wrong review — you need this one.

But how DSLE left us: that's another question — breathless, wanting more. And that's what Kercal gives us here: Jamie, Mushy, Charlotte and Natasha, the characters we met in Book I, are back, and all is not well. For starters, where's Dr Sylver when you need her? Just when we thought Jamie was on the edge of something amazing, he's on his own, and the relationships built up in DSLE are torn apart.

DSLE explored issues around bullying, deafness and an underage pregnancy. DSRP takes things further into the realities of teenage life, into a nightmare scenario of anorexia and self-harming and misunderstanding — and more spiritual warfare as we're taken behind the scenes to the Repository of the Past to catch a glimpse of things from another perspective.

Has Jamie got what it takes? Can his new-found faith survive, let alone grow, when everything around him seems to be falling apart and fear is driving him to his knees? What about the school's Christian Union? Can the normal Christians cope with a new kind of Christian, a Christian whose faith is emerging out of chaos and explosive relationships rather than being driven by the usual dogmas and doctrines? And where does all this being a Christian malarkey connect to the real world of half the planet starving?

There's much more going on here than meets the eye: Ezekiel's wheels-within-wheels come to mind; but I can't tell you much more than that without giving too many things away.

Finally — for any literary critics who may be reading — far greater care has been taken in the proof-reading and presentation to give us a sharper and more polished piece of literature: a superb sequel that's every bit as powerful as Dr Sylver #1 - well worth the wait. Kercal's a writer who's clearly in touch with where teenagers are at: don't miss it!

Phil Groom, May 2006

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

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