The Study Train by Kurt Freiner

The Study Train: Return of the Untouchables by Kurt Freiner is an interesting and enjoyable Young Adult book. Ethan, a bullied and rather weedy teenager, is chosen to join the magic train that has been flying around the world for hundreds of years, turning unpromising youngsters such as Ethan into world leaders. Lord Althulos, the train’s guardian, is there to keep the students on the right track. Ethan doesn’t get off to a good start, getting into trouble and mixing with the ‘wrong set’ early on. He develops attitude. This brings him to the attention of the Untouchables. Their leader, Krixit, wants to take the study train over and needs’ Ethan’s co-operation to do so. What will Ethan do?

At times there’s an uneasy alliance between the author’s slightly old fashioned, methodical writing style and very modern colloquialisms that the characters come out with. Freiner has an excellent ear for teen conversation. But overall he’s easy to read and the action of the story fairly rattles along, like the train itself. There are shadows of Harry Potter in that Ethan is a kid from a bad home who is whisked off to an educational establishment. Father figure Althulos has a similar role to Dumbledore. But that’s where the similarities end. Freiner has created an imaginative and unique world for Ethan and his fellow students in which they make their choice between good and evil. The Study Train: Return of the Untouchables is a well constructed, exciting and intriguing adventure story which is very well worth reading.

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