Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason

The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason
Copyright 2009
David C. Cook - Fiction/
425 pages
Includes an interview with the author and a glossary

This will be another quickie review. It's currently 3:48 AM and I can't sleep because the next-door neighbor left her driveway spotlight on and it shines directly through our blinds. Someday, I'll order a blackout curtain.

Zac Sparks is ten years old when his life changes dramatically. After his mother is killed by lightning, he's snatched up by his two evil aunts, Esmeralda and Priscilla Henbother, and taken to their mansion in Five Corners. The two Aunties and their father, who is known as "Dada", can't be pleased. Dada is, in fact, so frightening that every time Zac sees him he faints dead away and has to spend time recovering in bed.

Zac not only is subjected to frequent beatings but also is sent on a mission to steal an umbrella from Sky Porter, a homely man who runs the general store.

Zac grows tired of being beaten with his aunties' cane but he has a great deal of difficulty convincing himself to steal from Sky, the only truly friendly person he's met in a town full of oddballs. Then, Zac finds out the secret of the umbrella and makes an assumption that colors his opinion of Sky. The umbrella has dangerous powers. What will happen when the umbrella falls into Dada's hands? Can Zac and his growing circle of friends retrieve the umbrella before it's too late?

Zac's story is an interesting one, but I must admit I felt I was dragging myself through the book because the beatings were too frequent and upsetting. There are so many people who seem to be just flat evil and the child abuse is hard to take. Zac is even forced to ask for more srikes, each time he receives a slap of the cane on his backside. The ending is a bit happily-ever-after and I liked that, the mystery of the umbrella, and the slow revelation that there were actually quite a few good people in Five Corners. However, they came into the picture a little too late for me to find this book really enjoyable.

2.5/5 - Creative storytelling, unique but disturbing. I don't personally think it's suitable for middle readers -- perhaps teenagers. I love the glossary and think the writing is decent, if not a bit magical. But, it just wasn't the book for me.

A side note: The Blue Umbrella's publisher is David C. Cook, a Christian publisher. There are some hints about heaven and the book ends with a scripture but that's about it as far as Christian references, unless I missed something. I found myself thinking the book was a bit harsh for a publisher of Christian books.


  1. It's too bad the book fell flat because the cover is just wonderful.

  2. Kathy,

    I know. That cover is awesome. The book has gotten some great reviews at Amazon, I noticed, but there are a handful of people who thought the beatings were too much, like I did.

  3. From the description, sounds like this particular author preaches more about the cane than about the "happy-ever-after". Have you noticed a trend in books lately? I mean, I know situations like this (hopefully not many) happen, but when you read a novel (okay, when I read a novel) you want to escape from the bad nastiness of the world. All in all, my only other insight (if it can be called that) is perhaps you were dragging through the book due to its length...452 pages for this storyline, seems a bit much to me. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Several things were just wierd and disturbing. I don't regret reading it and I want to read the next book in the series to see where he takes it. That cover is interesting though. :)

  5. GMR,

    The cane actually did end up being an important part of the story, but as far as I was concerned, all those beatings were just child abuse and I didn't see the point to torturing the kid in order to get to the end point. It was just too disturbing. I don't know that I've read a lot of books like that, but I'm with you -- books are supposed to be an escape. Reading about someone being hit no matter how hard he tries was just not fun or escapist.

    Note that Brittanie said she wants to read the next book to see where he takes the story. I didn't even realize this was the beginning of a series. I won't read on!


    I can't decide whether or not I regret reading the book. I think I lean toward wishing I had given up, although the ending was great. As to it being the first in a series . . . I had no idea. I won't read on. It was just too uncomfortable a read for me. the cover is fabulous.

  6. I give the cover 5 out of 5 stars...it's just so nice and bright!

    I didn't like the beatings too and especially the parts where the kids had to ask for another one. Very dark side of the book. And yeah, the aunties were horrible.

    Anyway, I like the mixture of characters found in the story. They added a touch of variety to the 400++ page book. If only it weren't so thick!

    Here's my review of the book. Thanks! :)

  7. Anonymous7:58 PM

    how does it end?

    1. I'm sorry, Anonymous. I can't tell you that. *channels the computer from 2001* Actually, it's been so long I don't remember, but I try very hard not to post spoilers on this blog.


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