Charlie Bone is a character from Jenny Nimmo's Children of the Red King children's fantasy series1. The series is a bit of a Harry Potter clone, but nothing's wrong with that. I like Harry Potter.
Initially it was said there would be five books, but now there's are more. Supposedly the sixth onward will focus less on Charlie Bone himself.
- Midnight for Charlie Bone (ISBN: 0439474299)
- The Time Twister (ISBN: 043949687X) (US title: Charlie Bone and the Time Twister)
- Charlie Bone and the Blue Boa (ISBN 0439545269) (US title: Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy)
- The Castle of Mirrors (ISBN: 0439545285) (US title:Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors)
- Charlie Bone and the Hidden King
- Charlie Bone and the Wilderness Wolf (US title: Charlie Bone and The Beast)
- Charlie Bone and the Giant of Badlock
There is also a Charlie Bone film in the making.
Charlie Bone lives with his mother, his recluse of a paternal uncle, his maternal grandmother, and his snarky paternal grandmother
Dursley Bone. His father died some time ago, and he's been living in a house paid for by his father's rich relatives since.
Shortly into the first book, Charlie discovers that he can hear people in photographs and Grandma Bone decides he's to be sent to Bloor's Academy, a school for geniuses and 'endowed' children--descendants of the ancient Red King who have inherited some magical ability.
A very good story. I like the world and the characters. The primary thing I'd change is the writing: it's far too concise. It's not poorly written, I just think it could easily be made one or two times longer without becoming boring.
One interesting (not bad, just interesting) thing that struck me was how cavalier Charlie is with information. Miss Ingledew tells him, 'tell no one who you wouldn't trust with your life' and he proceeds to tell everyone he comes across. He doesn't even worry much at all about letting Billy know everything that's going on after Billy becomes a spy. He's very laid back. (Whereas I'm paranoid beyond all reason.)
Billy being a spy is another sore point with me. He goes right from being on par with the rest of Charlie's trustworthy friends to being one-dimensionally evil. Okay, so he's not pure evil, and it's repeatedly mentioned that Charlie feels more sorry for him than anything else, but he switches sides without us being made aware of a second thought, or even told what his first thought is. Once again I call for more verbosity in the story.
Charlie Bone has messy hair and lives with a not-very-nice relative. His father is dead. He learns at age ten(?) that he has magical powers and is sent off to school where he has Adventures. At this school you only stay for the school week, going home each weekend, but it is divided into different departments (houses, of sorts: music, acting, and art2), though there seems to be no particular departmental loyalty.
- Charlie Bone: Our unwilling hero.
- Amy Bone: Charlie's mother
- Fidelo Gunn: Charlie's musical friend
- Maise Jones: Charlie's maternal grandmother
- Grizelda Bone: Charlie's paternal grandmother
- Benjamin Brown: Harry's friend. (Not a Bloor's student)
- Runner Bean: Benjamin's dog.
- Olivia Vertigo: An student of acting. Friend of Charlie.
- Manfred Bloor: Endowed head boy of Bloor's. A hypnotiser.
- Asa Pike: Can become a 'beast' at night.
- Lysander Sage: Endowed with the ability to summon up his ancestor's spirits.
- Dorcas: Endowed with unknown ability
- Beth Strong: endowed telekentist.
- Tancred Torsson: Endowed with the ability to cause storms: wind, rain, thunder, and lightning.
- Bindi: Endowed with unknown ability
- Zelda Dobinski: An endowed telekenetist.
- Emilia Moon: Endowed with the ability to turn into a bird.
- Billy Raven: An endowed orphan who can talk to (and understand) animals.
Book #1 Story (Spoilers)
When Charlie Bone's mother brings back the wrong photos from the developers, Charlie discovers he can hear people talk in photographs. When grandma Bone learns of this, she's quite happy. She is descended from the Yewbeams, an old family that is in turn descended from the Red King, a legendary sorcerer, and many of the Yewbeams inherited small magical talents.
Charlie is less happy about his gift, preferring an ordinary, uncomplicated life, generally being very laid back. But Grandma Yewbeam insists he be tested. For obvious reasons, Charlie passes the test and Grandma Bone insists she be sent to Bloor's Academy, a school for geniuses (which Charlie is not) and magically 'endowed' children (which Charlie is).
Before heading off to Bloor's, he is visited by a strange man named Mr. Onimous and his three fiery cats, who tells him the baby in the photograph he accidentally acquired was somehow lost and is now at Bloor's Academy.
On Mr. Onimous's advice, Charlie visits the owner of the photos he accidentally acquired, in hopes of getting his own photos back. This brings him to Miss Julia Ingledew's book store, where he's told of how the baby in the picture was traded for a mysterious something eleven years ago. Miss Ingledew asks him to try to find the baby (now an eleven-year-old girl). She also gives him a mysterious case she inherited from her brother-in-law, the one who had traded the baby away in the first place.
While Charlie and his friend Benjamin try to discern out how open the mysterious box, Grandma Bone and Charlie's aunts learn of it and try to acquire it for themselves. Luckily, Charlie and Benjamin have it well-hidden, and protected by Benjamin's dog, Runner Bean.
Once the school term starts, Charlie heads off to Bloor's. He knows no one there save for Fidelo Gunn, who has been tutoring Charlie in music. Charlie is in the music department. Charlie is quick to make friends, however. Within a week, he is good friends with Billy Raven (an endowed orphan who lives at Bloor's and can talk to and understand animals) and Olivia Vertigo (a student of acting with hair a different colour each day). He also makes enemies: Manfred Bloor (the hypnotising son of Bloor's master) and Asa Pike (A lycanthrope).
During his first day at Bloor's, Charlie's cape--a mandatory article of clothing--was stolen from the cloakroom while he was out for recess. He finds a tattered cape that no one has taken, but opts to go without instead. Manfred gives him suspension, meaning Charlie3 will be staying for part of Saturday.
That night, Charlie discovers that Gabriel, a quiet endowed boy, was the one who had taken his cape, but when he tries switching them back, Gabriel explains that he can feel the emotions of the owners of previous articles of clothing and that the tattered cape had been owned by someone who had died. Charlie agrees to wear the tattered cape, but asks Gabriel to try feeling the tie that had been his fathers. Gabriel does and says that the former owner was 'lost', but not dead.
You probably don't need all these details, and I'm getting tired of trying to remember exactly how everything went down, so I'll very briefly summaries the rest:
Bloor's headmaster promises Billy adoptive parents if he'll spy on Charlie and Billy agrees. Charlie gets suspicious of Billy, and avoids telling Billy sensitive information for the most part, though he's none-too-careful about it.
Charlie and co. manage to open the box, and discover that it's an automaton/jack-in-the-box of sorts. They postulate that Emily Moon is actually the missing baby, presumably hypnotised my Manfred. They figure the jack-in-the-box is intended to awaken her from her hypnotic state and back her memory.
They do so, and it's a happy ending.
1 The name for the series seems to be Children of the Red King, but many readers probably wouldn't even recognise that name. It's mentioned on the spine and title page, but isn't even on the front cover, so I'm putting this here.
2 Of course, music and acting aren't art. They're science. Right?
3 I just managed to stop myself from typing 'Harry' there.