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Children's Urban Fantasy book series about a group of friends who end up going on a series of adventures involving monsters, creatures and magic. Set in the modern world and mixing in some contemporary issues (rivalry, divorce) with the fantasy elements.
The four friends are essentially huge nerds, with an interest in comic books and playing card games, and indeed, this is how they met. Early in the first book, they accidentally release creatures from a book called the Codex, and they have to deal with the strange events that soon occur. Eventually, they learn there is a massive plot going on involving a centuries-long war between the Knights Templar (no, not those Knights Templar!) and the forces of Morgan LeFay, an immortal witch. Fortunately, Max, the lead hero and a billionaire, is the descendant of many heroes of the Templar, and many of his servants are also secretly part of this fight.
Although they're the heroes, the kids do not actively fight for the most part, other than occasionally carrying things they need to protect themselves which they need to use. Otherwise, they snoop around, explore, and use their wits to solve problems. Most of the actual fighting is done by adults, and the kids are frequently saved by them when things go wrong. Naturally, as an attempt to get the kids to play the main role in the story, they either end up going on many adventures by themselves or the adults are conveniently separated from them.
The heroes are:
- Max - A rich boy whose parents are billionaires, as well as divorced. He doesn't care much for money, and only wishes for a normal life with his friends. He is also the descendant of the Knights Templar, and has many friends in high places who can help him.
- Harley - A tough kid who lives in a trailer. Despite being intimidating and muscular, he's a good friend to the group, and shares their nerdy interests in comic books and playing card games.
- Ernie - The Load for the most part. Wimpy, asthmatic, and tries to avoid danger as much as he can. He is sometimes forced into heroism.
- Natalia - A smart girl who likes to write down notes and ask questions. She likes to dress up for any occasion possible, and sometimes acts bossy, such as when she tries to help Ernie with his diet. She is rather fearless, occasionally doing suicidal things such as jumping from one balcony to another over a thirty foot drop.
- Brooke - Added to the group in the third book. She is The Chick, with a convenient backstory that allows her to join the action head-on.
Has a lot of potential for fun, but sometimes that potential is ruined by the sheer randomness of the plot (which is part of what makes it fun), Ass Pulls galore (and you gotta love the "at the last moment" rescues), and speech giving.
Starting from the fourth book on, the series becomes The Clockwork Chronicles, as the kids move to a school of magic. This series is in contention, due to the change in dialog and characterization, as well as the new setting.
This series contains examples of:
- Action Prologue - ranging from the "foreshadowing" to the "totally unrelated to the main plot" variety
- Adults Are Useless - subverted! Adults are actually quite useful
- Awesome but Impractical - Ernie's super speed, which he gains in the third book. Why can't he use it? Because it will speed up his transformation into a fairy. Please...
- Awesome McCoolname - Grayson Maximilian Sumner III, Harley Davidson Eisenstein, Natalia Anastasia Felicia Romanov, and Ernest Blumfeld Tweeney (his name is meant to sound nerdy, to fit the fact that he is a colossal nerd)
- Badass - many of the adult characters, particularly Logan.
- And especially Dracula.
- Battle Butler - quite a few of them
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy - did you know that the Knights Templar still exist in the modern world, and are protecting it from supernatural evil? Or that Morgan LeFay drives a Ferrari around and has her own arctic base?
- Casual Danger Dialog
- Cool Loser - Harley, being both tough and yet into the same interests as the other three kids
- Cool Old Guy - Iver
- Follow the Leader - perhaps in the future. A blog post by one of the authors hints at it possibly turning into a Harry Potter ripoff. A magical-sounding school is mentioned, and "life will change for the Griffins in a big way!" Gee, I wonder in what way it will change? Could they end up going to "Magic School"?
- Foot Focus - Used to imply that Brooke is attractive to Max.
Brooke carelessly slid a bare foot along the floor. Her toenails were decorated with glittering flowers.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum - part of why these books are so darn random
- Guilty Pleasures - if you can put up with the ridiculous flaws (mainly, the randomness) this series has, its fun qualities make it rather enjoyable
- Holding Back the Phlebotinum - another part of why they're so random
- Informed Ability - Natalia is very smart. Or is she? Harley, the tough kid of the group, can't stand up to the bullies, who are bigger than him. Some tough guy he is. Same with all the stuff Max is taught by his bodyguard, Logan. It all goes unused. And in the third book, Ernie gains a genuine super power: super speed. Guess how often he doesn't use it?
- Though there is a stated reason he doesn't use it. Because using his super speed will eventually transform him into a faerie.
- Kid Hero - though the adults play major roles, and do most of the actual combat
- Little Hero Big War - the adults always engage in big fights against evil while the kids snoop around and go on their own adventures
- The Load - Ernie, though not always
- Parental Betrayal - Max's dad is evil. A shame, since he's angry at his mom, but then he finds out that his dad is worse
- Random Events Plot
- Ted Baxter - Ernie. At least due to his overt wimpiness and nerdiness, we can't accuse of him having a wasted Informed Ability... until the third book
- Urban Fantasy