Oh, Taylor… As one reads through G.P. Taylor’s works, one must prepare for a rollercoaster of a ride. Not the emotional ride some writers put readers through, but rather a ride where the reader cannot figure out if Taylor’s stories are intriguing or dull. Each story contains strengths and weaknesses, but they are always varying, giving the illusion that when Taylor tried to strengthen a weakness, he weakened a strength in the process. His religious collection of books for young adults, which include Shadowmancer, The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street, and Wormwood, create a jumbled mess of a series (granted, these books are not part of a series, but they are supposed to be tied together). The fourth book of this series (sequel to Wormwood and taking place before The Shadowmancer Returns) is Tersias the Oracle and it, unfortunately, follows in the messy footsteps of its predecessors.
The comet Wormwood has passed. London is shaken, but still in one piece; however, the people will never be the same after everything they have witnessed. Magic and creatures from other worlds have made themselves known to humanity and one such demon known as a Wretchkin has chosen a young blind orphan boy named Tersias as a host. The Wretchkin tells Tersias the happenings of the future and magician Magnus Malachi has taken advantage of his little oracle to make a fortune. And yet, there are others who wish to have Tersias’ futuristic sight: a false prophet who claims he is the savior, a rich man whose family tree has been cursed, and a group of teenage robbers who dream of riches and moving far away from London. No one is aware of the demon that takes hold of Tersias’ soul, so who will be able to see past their selfish ways to save him?
The premise sounds interesting enough for someone to at least pick up the book, but as a whole, Tersias the Oracle does not have much to offer. First and foremost, it is supposed to be a sequel to Wormwood, but it does not tie into the story at all minus a few times the comet is mentioned. There is a whole new cast of characters when at least some of Wormwood’s characters should have been brought over or at least referenced. Or, there should have been more references to the comet, what it did to the city, and how the people were recovering, if at all. Even the Wretchkin was not one of the strange creatures mentioned in Wormwood.
As aforementioned, the characters are all new and yet, almost exactly the same as all of Taylor’s other characters. A majority are self-centered, hot headed, only think of themselves, and believe nothing can harm them. When out-of-this-world creatures show them the true meaning of fear, they become vulnerable and begin to think, “Maybe there is more to life than just my little world. Maybe I should start thinking of others.” Every. Single. Time. With. Every. Single. Character. This works for characters for maybe one book, but four? By Tersias the Oracle, these types of characters have become tired and extremely predictable. Tersias is probably the only likeable character in this book and, guess what? He is hardly in it even though the book is named after him. The story would have been stronger if Tersias had been in it more.
One thing that has somewhat improved in this book is Taylor’s writing style. He has backed off of the excessive detail quite a bit, though there are still scenes with irrelevant bits of detail. His overly religious clichés are non-existent, allowing the reader to get through the book without having to bang his or head on a wall. One of the best bits of Taylor’s writing in Tersias the Oracle is his use of dialog. There are scenes where the dialog between the characters is perfectly executed and is actually quite fun to read aloud because of how nicely the words flow. These scenes are, perhaps, the saving grace of the story.
For a sequel, it does not act very much like one and would have benefited more if it had had more characters and detail carried over from Wormwood. With incredibly predictable “character development” and a somewhat dull plot, Tersias the Oracle (much like Shadowmancer’s sequel) is a story that can easily be forgotten. If children are interested in this series of books thus far and wish to finish, then by all means, read Tersias the Oracle. If children or any other reader wishes to stay away from basically the same story given in both Wormwood and Shadowmancer, then steer clear of this story.