The Good, the Bad and the Refreshing: Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese

Well hello again!

Every summer I read the fifteen Florida Sunshine State books and Happenstance Found was officially the tenth Florida Sunshine State book I read this summer.

Happenstance Found by P.W. CataneseTwelve-year-old Happenstance awakens in a cave with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. Soon a mysterious trio arrives to take him away: the explorer Umber, the shy archer Sophie, and Oates, whose strength and honesty are both brutal. Hap and his new acquaintances narrowly escape the cavernous underworld and make their way to Lord Umber’s bustling jewel of a harbor city, Kurahaven.

Once there, Hap learns that Lord Umber is an extraordinary man — he’s a merchant, adventurer, inventor, royal adviser, and chronicler of all things monstrous and magical. But Umber’s accomplishments can’t answer the question closest to the boy’s heart: Who is Happenstance?

Desperate to uncover clues in his new, baffling surroundings, Hap accompanies Umber on dangerous and unusual missions. But Hap soon learns that there are powerful enemies inside the kingdom, and a ruthless assassin is hot on his trail. Faced with many unknowns, Hap knows one thing is certain: There’s a reason Umber has chosen him…if only he could determine it.

There is always a fantasy novel on the Sunshine State list but I’ve never been they’ve never been ones that I really, really enjoy, until now.  I completely loved Happenstance Found! But I must confess that I totally judged this book by its cover and thought “Ugh. Not the book for me!” I’m glad to report that I was so pleasantly surprised!

Although this is a fantasy story, there are also elements of science fiction thrown in. In this way Happenstance Found reminded me a little of Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron, because it was a strange (but good!) amalgamation of fantasy story elements with sci-fi themes woven in.

Let me say that the characters just made me smile.  I think I’m pretty cynical when it comes to loyal characters because the whole time I kept expecting someone to back-stab Hap or Lord Umber,  but it never happened.  The good guys are good guys and the bad guys are  bad guys, which was actually incredibly refreshing! I was a straight forward good story. And speaking of good guys, Lord Umber is by far my favorite character. He is so intriguing and I’m interested to learn more about his back story (although we do get quite a bit in Happenstance Found) in the other two books in the series.

In general fantasy doesn’t do so hot in my Media Center, but I’m going to promote Happenstance Found like crazy because I think that if my students gave it a try they’d end up pleasantly surprised like I was. I’d actually recommend this book to upper elementary grade readers and older who prefer fantasy.

Author: P.W. Catanese

Publisher: Aladdin (December 22, 2009)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 368 pages

Series: First in the Books of Umber trilogy


Buy the Book:  Happenstance Found (The Books of Umber)

3 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad and the Refreshing: Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese

  1. I haven’t ever heard of this book so thanks for introducing it to me! It’s great that you love the characters, I find that if I really connect with characters, the book really stands out to me

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