Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Ring of Five

The Ring of Five

Eoin McNamee
Fiction  Series
For ages 10 and up
Random House, 2011   ISBN: 978-0375846359

Danny Caulfield has never really fitted in with the other kids at school. His pixie-like features and his eyes, one brown and one blue, make him different enough that the school bullies have always targeted him. Now Danny’s parents have decided that the best thing to do is to send Danny to a boarding school. Danny is dreading being sent away from home, but there is nothing that he can do about it; he has to accept his parent’s decision.

   When a taxi arrives at Danny’s house to take him to his new school, Danny is pretty resigned to his situation, but when the taxi driver behaves very strangely and takes him to some unknown place, Danny begins to get very alarmed indeed. Danny finds himself at Wilson’s School instead of Heston Oakes, the boarding school he is supposed to be attending. Danny is told by two men, Master Devoy and Marcus Brunholm, that Wilsons is an academy of spying. Danny is convinced that a dreadful mistake has been made. Why would he be sent to a school for spies?

   It is immediately clear to Danny that Wilsons is a very strange place indeed, and soon Danny discovers that he is not in his world at all. He is on a place called Wilson’s Island which lies between the Upper World, where he is from, and the Lower World, where a war has been waged and lost. The winners of that war, beings called Cherbs, are now eager to invade the Upper World, and the only thing preventing them from doing so are the inhabitants of Wilson’s Island, specifically Master Devoy and Marcus Brunholm. The Cherbs are governed by a group called the Ring of Five. There are four members of the Ring at the moment, and Danny has been brought to this place because it is believed that Danny looks like he could be the Fifth, the final member of the Ring who can complete it and make it extremely powerful. Danny looks like a Cherb and is therefore perfectly suited to infiltrate the enemy and stop them before it is too late. Devoy and Brunholm think that Danny has just what is needed to play the part of the Fifth. He has a natural ability for betrayal.

   At first all Danny wants to do is to go home, but when as he gets to know his strange fellow students and starts attending some of the classes, he begins to like Wilsons. Then, he finds out that many of his new friends are orphans because the Cherbs destroyed their families. Danny decides that he should join Wilsons and accept the challenge of pretending to be the Fifth. He has to do something to protect the Upper World, his world, from being overrun the way the Lower World has been. The task ahead of him is frightening enough, but when someone tries to kill him, Danny realizes that he is in the middle of a situation that might not have a happy ending.

   In this first Ring of Five title, the author takes his readers on a fascinating and often bizarre adventure to a strange world where nothing is as it seems. Treachery seems to lie around every corner, and one can never be sure who is ones friend and who is an enemy.