Book Review: James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra by Colm McElwain

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra by Colm McElwain | Blushing GeekJames Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra by Colm McElwain
Series: James Clyde, #1
February 1, 2012 by Matador
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
240 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Free from the author
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy: Amazon, Book Depository
Find on Goodreads

Alongside his friends Ben and Mary Forester, James Clyde must protect a powerful diamond from falling into the wrong hands. A strange and sinister man dressed in black is also pursuing the diamond and will stop at nothing to obtain it. James and his friends set off on a perilous journey to return the diamond to its rightful place. But they are being hunted every step of the way by the relentless man in black and his blood-thirsty army. Outnumbered, James finds he must use the power of the diamond to escape their clutches – or become another victim of their murderous quest. So begins a journey that will transport them to an alternative world where they must confront the mysterious man in black for a final, winner-takes-all battle…


Once in a while, I do enjoy indulging to a good middle grade fantasy books. So when I was offered by the good author, Colm McElwain with his first book, James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra, I was curious. So I’ve read the sypnosis, watch its book trailer and read some reviews, then I’ve decided that I want to read it.

James Clyde and the diamonds of Orchestra started with a very intriguing prologue talking about this guy Marcus being pursued by some unknown assailants. The mention of a place called Darken, the killing of the King and finding the legendary diamonds intensified my interest. On the next page, we then introduced to the 11-year old protagonist, James Clyde, who recently come to live with a vague haughty woman named Anne Brown who also adopted the siblings, Ben (who is just a year younger than him) and Mary (8 years old).

The introduction of James Clyde wasn’t really that pleasant since he was being pursued by the mall security guards for shoplifting. In the struggle to get away from the guards, he unintentionally ventured into a physic who warns him of grave dangers. Her prophesy then started when James, together with Ben and Mary get to spend the 2 weeks Christmas vacation to his grandfather Wimore’s place.

This book was actually divided into two parts. The first one was the introduction of James Clyde, and his connection to the beautiful world of Orchestra, which they thought at first was just a mere fairytale. The second was more about what happened to him and his friends at Orchestra and what dangers they met. This story was then ended with an epilogue way back to Earth which highlights their dear friend, Simon Rainbow, who after finding out the death of James’ grandfather and their disappearance decided to investigate the event by himself. The last page of this book ended with Simon finding the treasure chest making us excited to know what will happen next.

McElwain lists C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling among his influencers and it’s easy to spot the influence in this book. I love the trio and I love how they complimented each other, they somewhat reminds me of Harry, Ron and Hermione. The antagonist, Queen Abigail on the other hand reminds me of Narnia’s white witch.

Orchestra by the way is divided into two kingdoms: Zara and Darken. By the name itself, it’s obvious which is the bad one eh? After the death of the King 11 years ago, Darken now ruled by the evil Queen Abigail who intends to rule both the kingdom after she obtains Orchestra’s fabled diamonds.

I love that even if this book’s target readers were pre-teens, it contains enough adventure and thrill to intrigue grown-up readers. I also love that it was so fast pace. It’s just a short read but you wouldn’t notice that since there’s a lot of things happening in this book. It was also narrated by multiple characters, but most of the times we’re from James.

My amazement with this story continues to grow as I read every chapters of this book. It’s just appalling how the author created a different word (and take note, an equally beautiful one) out of the two most successful series of all time.

Overall, James Clyde and the diamonds of Orchestra is a remarkable story about the adventure of 3 young kids into a different world, where they thought was just a product of imagination until they find themselves inside of it. Definitely a must-read for all ages.

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About Colm McElwain

Author Colm McElwain | Blushing GeekColm was raised and educated in Monaghan, Ireland. He is a teacher and likes reading books, watching films and playing sport. He has always loved storytelling, whether through literature or film. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is his first novel and brings a very fulfilling creative experience spanning a number of years to an end. The sequel to James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is currently in development.