“The Blood Guard” (Two Lions/Amazon Children’s Publishing; March 4) by Carter Roy is a captivating and magical adventure that launches a brand new series for middle grade readers. It’s the sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but always thrilling swashbuckling tale of an ordinary boy who is forced to become a hero, rescue his parents, and protect himself and a girl from his school against an ancient evil order who want nothing less than to bring about the end of the world.
Thirteen-year-old Ronan Truelove considers himself to be a typical teen, but after his father is abducted, his mother finally tells him the truth: that she’s a member of an ancient order of knights, the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect the Pure—thirty-six noble souls whose safety is crucial if the world as we know it is to survive. In search of her husband, she leaves Ronan to meet a chaperone on a train out of town, but almost immediately he is chased by a posse of sinister people who will stop at nothing to apprehend him.
Now all those after-school activities (gymnastics, judo, survival training, etc.) his mother made him take make sense. For suddenly Ronan is swept up in a whirlwind race, dashing from one danger to the next, using his wits to escape the evildoings of the Bend Sinister. Falling in with two unlikely companions, Greta, a scrappy, strong-willed girl he’s never much liked, and Jack, a devil-may-care teenage pickpocket, Ronan learns what it means to be a hero and proves he’s not so ordinary after all.
While “The Blood Guard” is pure fantasy, Carter Roy was inspired by a real concept. According to Kabbalah, there exist thirty-six special people whose purity of soul redeems the rest of humanity. (Kabbalistic folklore calls them tzaddikim or nistarim, though elsewhere—and in The Blood Guard—they are known as the thirty-six Pure.) If the souls of enough of these pure ones were somehow to be permanently or prematurely extinguished, our world would end.
Carter Roy has painted houses and worked on construction sites; waited tables and driven delivery trucks; been a stage hand for rock bands and a videographer on a cruise ship; worked as a line cook in a kitchen, a projectionist in a movie theater, and a rhetoric teacher at a university. He has been a reference librarian and a bookseller, edited hundreds of books for major publishers, and written award-winning short-stories for adult readers that appeared in a half-dozen journals and anthologies. He lives in Brooklyn.
Visit www.carterroybooks.com or follow him on Twitter: @CarterRoyBooks