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Book Review: Midnight For Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

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Midnight For Charlie Bone is the first book in a five-book (thus far) series. Originally it was touted as being only a five-book series, but evidently success has broadened the tale.

The story is that of nine-year-old Charlie Bone, who turns out to be one of the descendants of the Red King, a mysterious personage who had amazing powers. When the Red King’s wife died, he left his kingdom and his ten children. As it happens, five of the children used their powers for good, and five used their powers for selfish reasons. This set up the continuing war that’s been playing out for generations.

Charlie at first discovers that he has a weird power: he can hear people thinking and talking in photographs. He was planning to make a birthday card for his best friend, Benjamin, and ended up with the picture of a man and a baby instead. Listening to the picture, puzzled by this strange ability, he learns that the baby was stolen away and remains lost to this day.

He follows up on the hints provided by the picture to investigate the mystery of the missing little girl. His travels take him to Ingeldew’s Bookshop, where Miss Ingledew is despondent over her missing niece. Charlie knows that the niece must be the same one in the picture he saw.

Miss Ingledew also gives Charlie a robotic dog that her brother-in-law, Mr. Tolly, gave her. There’s also a mysterious silver box (that doesn’t get opened for 200 pages and drives readers absolutely crazy!). It promises more mysteries to come.

Back home, Charlie talks to Benjamin and his dog Runner Bean, then delivers his gifts and his mysterious package. Charlie’s Grandma Bone was a Yewbeam, and her sisters (a truly obnoxious trio of busybodies with incalculable mean streaks) and that heritage marks Charlie. Once they discover Charlie can hear pictures, they decide to send him to Bloor’s Academy. Charlie and his mother have no choice because the aunts are providing for them.

In the academy, the mystery deepens. Charlie runs afoul of Manfred Bloor, who has the power to hypnotize, but he finds a great friend in Fidelio and discovers there are other Endowed children. He also finds out that Endowed children are part of the Red King’s extended family.

Many readers have compared the series to the Harry Potter books. There is a lot to compare (school, creepy adults, magical powers), but there is a lot of difference as well. The Charlie Bone series appears written on a simpler, easier-to-grasp level.

However, there are some jarring instances when the point of view shifts too abruptly, from one sentence to the next without a scene break between. This causes some processing delays as the reader takes a moment to realize that the scene has shifted.
There are some great villains and some charming heroes. Charlie’s Uncle Paton really comes through in the end when the chips are down and Charlie doesn’t know what to do.

I read the book to my eight-year-old over the past week. He, and I, found Midnight For Charlie Bone to be fun, adventurous, and mysterious. It is the kind of book we really go for when we want to relax. However, I found myself reading longer and longer as my son wanted to know more and more of the mystery. So be prepared to hang on to the reading experience for quite some time as you become enthralled with the story.

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About Mel Odom

  • LilyTaylor

    when does the next charlie bone come out?

  • Mel

    It comes out in June 2007. The above link goes directly to the Amazon page.


  • this book is like a cheaper version of harry potter and its stupid. one second the characters are shocked and stuff, the next they accept the shocking stuff. its way too fake. not enough imagery i hate this book.

  • sarah

    Is the Charlie Bone series only a 5 book series?

  • Mel

    Check the link in the above post. The new book comes out in June. No one knows how long it’s going to last.

  • I’m the illustrator for the Japanese editions of the series, published by Tokuma Shoten in Tokyo. A few images are on my blog. My editor only contracted to publish the first five titles in Japan and were surprised to hear the series will be continued. How many more books are published in the series probably only Jenny and her publisher in the UK (Egmont) know.

  • Chante

    i am now reading the time twister.it’s really great,getting intersting.

  • Brianna C.

    i loved this book, no joke. it was pretty amazing. i love the characters, settings, dialogue, and the plot line. i could never write anything like this!!!!!!!!!

  • I have found 8 titles in the Charlie Bone series and I can’t work out the order they should go in. Where do the Blue Boa, The Wilderness Wolf and The Beast fit into the series?

  • nina

    this book is great nothin like harry pottor just to let u noe

  • nole

    this website is wrong

  • jamin Woodruff

    I think your books are the best i’ve read every book like 5 times!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • LiL D

    i like your book my nigga

  • Paige Mawdsley

    i think charlie bone books are better then any other so whoever thinks it is rubbish has no sence of humour like and it is better then any other book including harry potter so lets all say charlie bone is FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hi guys,

    I work for Egmont UK the publisher. There will be 8 Charlie Bone books. The Shadow of Badlock is published in September and it’s the second to last one.

    We are running a competition on the Charlie Bone site from the 1st of July for UK residents 16 and under to create a new game idea for the website- have a go and your game could appear on the site!

    Alistair Spalding
    Egmont UK

  • Em

    I thought that the Charlie Bone series is awsome, no lie! My friend got me in to the Charlie Bone series and I’m glad she did! The books are full of excitment! even though I’m only on number 4, think that this series is way better than Harry Potter and I am a big fan of Harry Potter!

  • snow

    i just finnish reading books 1-6 for the millionth time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nicola Falla Romero

    I think the Charlie Bone books are brilliant, cant wait to read the next one in the series!! Im a mum of four and find them great reading with lots of imagination and magical fantasy, well done

  • Ely

    i dot really like th book because its to jupy like.. i just dont get it and i really do think that great books become movies and this one hasnt..i just dont like it=(

  • megan

    i love this series and never ever ever want it to end. fantastic job jenny nimmo!

  • Kelly

    HELP! I’m confused! Are there two new Charlie Bone books released within a few weeks of each other? Charlie and the Shadow and Charlie and the Shadow of Badlock or are they the same book with different titles/art for UK and US?

  • Taylor

    I am starting my own book club for boys and girls ages 10-13, I wold like to know if you would recommend this books series for a read????
    P.S Sorry Kelly I can’t help you…..

  • Nikki

    My brother got me interested in the Charlie Bone. I love them. I have read all 7 of the books. They are GREAT! They are full of fun adventures and refusals.

  • spanasian


  • jusrine casrill

    the best books ive ever read my favorite book is the snow spider i was glued to that book i never took my eyes off it i just got done reading the last two trilogy books they were exciting amazing and mind blowing the best experince i didnt expect to come from a book. now im on the carlie bone books i just started reading book one its good so far i get in my own little world when i read those books and espically the snow spider that one made me feel like i could be what ever i wantwd to be and didnt care what anyone else thinks i become myself when i read jenny nimmos books they make me feel like me.

  • jusrine casrill

    no they do not have to do with charlie bone books

  • Alegria

    I have to thank Jenny Nimmo. Because of her series i have grown to love reading and am now an avid reader today, absorbed in all the worlds of imagination through the realm of words. I love the Charlie Bone series and have read all 7 of them several times. It’s not my favorite series I have to admit. My all time favorite is the Ranger’s Apprentice series. But the Charlie Bone books are amazing! Thanks for all the inspiration Jenny Nimmo!

  • lilly F.

    I love the books! there is going to be like 10!