My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Disclaimer: I received this galley from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Part 1: From The Book Cover
Sam Watkins, an orphaned young teenager, possesses the ability to read the minds of almost everyone he meets. Howard Lyons, the owner of the orphanage where Sam has lived since he was a baby, has been reluctant to let Sam leave the orphanage. Unable to read the mind of Mr. Lyons, he takes it upon himself to investigate the reasons behind the owner's decisions and learn more about the origin of his ability, his parents and the potential of his power. However, Sam's investigation and mind-reading abilities reveal a power struggle at the top of a faltering orphanage between Mr. Lyons and his assistant Natalie. Sam's involvement in this conflict leads him to look for ways to save the orphanage and uncover the true motivations of both the owner and his assistant while trying to learn about his past.
Part 2: Recommendation
Written in the first person point of view in Sam Watkin's perspective, a thirteen year old orphan, living at the Lyons Orphanage, who has the ability to read the minds of everyone he meets except Mr. Lyons' and Nurse Scarlett's minds.
This is the first book that I've been exposed to Charlie King's work and I have to say with all honesty that it was a good read with a surprising twist that was hinted at in the middle of the book and in the book description that intrigued me. The first half of the book describes the daily routine of the orphans at the orphanage and the pacing is on the slow side, which is to be expected considering the POV is that of Sam's, whose life revolves around the orphanage and he doesn't get to go outside and since it begins during the summer break, there are no school scenes to show how Sam interacts with other students. The reader is pulled into believing Sam and in turn believes what Sam believes to be true. So when the author introduces the conflict between Mr. Lyons and Natalie, the reader feels the same way as Sam does. It's strange though because the way Sam thinks and talks, to me, feels more like he's way older than thirteen or could that be a product of being able to read people's minds?
After the conflict has been introduced, the second half of the book goes by much faster especially with the addition of Nicholas Lyons and his poker friends and everything drastically speeds up during the boys' annual physical check-up at the hospital where Nurse Scarlett and Nurse Lewis works where Sam finally discovers how he came to be at the orphanage which further ignited his curiosity more than ever as the reasons doesn't seem to be traumatic for a thirteen year old to handle, and why he was never allowed to meet prospective parents and how come despite after receiving a large donation, there are no visible improvements being done on the orphanage?
All the answers to these seemingly innocent questions explodes throughout the final chapters where everything is revealed and loyalties changed.
The Lyons Orphanage does not have a complicated plot, easy to follow and the main orphan characters (Sam, Ben, Natasha and Gareth) are well developed characters while Mr. Howard Lyons and Natalie remain background authority figures until almost the very end when their characters become more involved with Sam.
The only issue I had with the galley I received was that the formatting was not very good at all. I believe the author would benefit greatly from the services of a book/ebook formatter or with using Vellum to format this book. The cover did not bother me as I usually go for the book description when deciding to read a book or not but it could also use an update.
Overall, despite the formatting issues I've mentioned above, it's an enjoyable read.