Enthoven, Sam 1974-
Enthoven, Sam 1974-
Born August, 1974. Education: University of Manchester, B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Tai chi, playing guitar.
Home—London, England. Agent—Penny Holroyde, 70-75 Cowcross St., London EC1M 6EJ, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer. Blackwell's, London, England, bookseller, 1995-2005.
The Black Tattoo (fantasy novel), Razorbill (New York, NY), 2006.
Tim, Defender of the Earth (fantasy novel), Razorbill (New York, NY), 2008.
Bookseller-turned-novelist Sam Enthoven is the author of The Black Tattoo, "a mix of fantasy horror, martial arts, comedy and (young) teenage angst," observed Philip Ardagh on the Guardian Unlimited Web site. In the work, an evil entity named Scourge, trapped for thousands of years in the roots of an ancient tree, escapes its confinement and plans to destroy the universe. London teenagers Charlie Farnsworth and Jack Farrell are recruited by warrior-girl Esme, a member of the Brotherhood of Sleep, to combat the demon. The Scourge, however, invades Charlie's body, manifesting itself as a writhing black tattoo, and leads him into Hell. Jack and Esme follow their companion to the underworld, where they do battle with a host of grotesque, vicious gladiators.
Critics praised the book's vivid settings and nonstop action. "Fantasy fans will undoubtedly appreciate all the detailed descriptions of the creatures in Hell," noted Kliatt reviewer Paula Rohrlick, and School Library Journal contributor Anthony C. Doyle remarked that the author "has created an interesting and original universe and a gripping story." The author is "clearly loving telling this story—there are some pleasing twists—and his energy creeps into the words on every page," Ardagh stated. Other reviewers noted Enthoven's sensitive handling of his characters, particularly the relationship between the two boys. According to Thomas M. Wagner, writing on the SF Reviews.net Web site, "The Black Tattoo is the story of both Charlie's and Jack's personal growth; Charlie has to overcome the impetuosity and fiery temper that allowed him to be so easily led into evil, and Jack learns to step out of Charlie's shadow and conquer his own feelings of inferiority in order to do the kind of crucial decision-making that marks passage into adulthood." Armchair Interviews Web site reviewer Nick Capo called the novel "a cautionary tale about how easily normal human failings lead to evil and corruption. In the novel's world, power certainly does corrupt, and our saving graces are love and friendship."
Enthoven's next effort is another fantasy novel for younger readers, Tim, Defender of the Earth. Tim is actually a man-made weapon designed to resemble the dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex, and his name stands for Tyrannosaur: Improved Model. Tim, who is green, one hundred meters tall, and approximately thirteen years old at the time of the story, was designed, built, and brought to life in a top secret government lab beneath Trafalgar Square in London. However, when England gets a new prime minister, he decides that Tim is not as important a project as he once was, and that the money spent on his design and maintenance could be put to better uses. So, Tim is to be dismantled—in essence, destroyed. However, a mad scientist, Professor Mallahide, is hard at work in his attempt to take over the world, using his own nanobot creations. Tim manages to escape from the lab before the government executioners are able to get rid of him, and he goes off in search of the mad scientist. With him is Chris, a fourteen-year-old boy who is mysteriously linked to Tim due to a bracelet he receives during a class trip to the British Museum, given to him by an unknown woman. Together, Tim and Chris succeed in stopping Professor Mallahide in the nick of time, thereby proving Tim's worth to the country, and making Chris realize that he does not necessarily have to be cool to be able to do something important. The book stresses that though neither Tim nor Chris is a genius, they are able to accomplish a great deal as a team. While Tim handles the mad scientist, Chris is able to help the scientist's daughter, Anna, who happens to be one of his classmates. Over the course of the book, a number of important British landmarks are destroyed, based upon a list that Enthoven developed when on tour for his previous book; he actually asked students he met what landmarks they thought should be trampled.
While the book received favorable reviews from some critics, others found the execution of the story somewhat sloppy and in need of tightening. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked that "this may be entertaining for some, but the book could have used some judicious editing and another draft before publication." A reviewer for the Book Hound Web site concluded that "the book is wildly inventive and a lot of fun, but there were a few places where the action seemed to come to a standstill. Information we'd heard was sometimes repeated. Still, if you've got a young male reader in the house, this book will probably keep him occupied." However, Jane Henriksen Baird, writing for School Library Journal, dubbed the book a "fun, action-driven, science fiction tale" and opined it would be particularly of interest to male readers who often have trouble finding books with which they can identify. Paula Rohrlick, in a review for Kliatt, called Enthoven's effort "fun escapist fantasy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2006, Cindy Dobrez, review of The Black Tattoo, p. 125.
Bookseller, March 25, 2005, "Random Signs up Blackwell's Bookseller," interview with Sam Enthoven, p. 7.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2006, review of The Black Tattoo, p. 951; January 1, 2008, review of Tim, Defender of the Earth.
Kliatt, November, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of The Black Tattoo, p. 10; March 1, 2008, Paula Rohrlick, review of Tim, Defender of the Earth, p. 12.
School Library Journal, January, 2007, Anthony C. Doyle, review of The Black Tattoo, p. 126; March 1, 2008, Jane Henriksen Baird, review of Tim, Defender of the Earth, p. 198.
Armchair Interviews,http://www.armchairinterviews.com/ (March 30, 2007), Nick Capo, review of The Black Tattoo.
Black Tattoo Web site,http://www.theblacktattoo.com (March 30, 2007).
Book Hound Web site,http://bookhound.wordpress.com/ (July 29, 2008), review of Tim, Defender of the Earth.
Fantasy Bookspot.com,http://www.fantasybookspot.com/ (March 30, 2007), review of The Black Tattoo.
Guardian Unlimited,http://books.guardian.co.uk/ (October 21, 2006), Philip Ardagh, "To Hell and Back," review of The Black Tattoo.
Sffworld.com,http://www.sffworld.com/ (October 10, 2006), Rob H. Bedford, review of The Black Tattoo.
SF Reviews.net,http://www.sfreviews.net/ (March 30, 2007), Thomas M. Wagner, review of The Black Tattoo.