I'm currently reading Henry H. Neff's The Hound of Rowan: Book One of the Tapestry. Setting aside the inevitable HP comparison, I find myself enjoying this book immensely. The book follows the adventures of Max McDaniels, a boy who may be in possession of powerful magic, and who is sent to a secret, specialized school in order to learn how to harness that power. There is a great, ancient evil that was thought destroyed but may not be, and a legion of followers who are working to help the ancient evil regain control. There are several other similarities to HP (Max turns out to be extraordinarily good at the school's chosen game; he has the possibility of having a huge amount of power at his disposal that he is unaware of; the school becomes his safe haven from the Enemy; the town next door is privy to the secrets of the school, and the students are allowed to spend some of their free time there; there is even a kind-hearted gameskeeper who the kids befriend) but there are just as many differences within this story to make it stand out (Max loves his family and doesn't want to stay at the school; the magic is tied directly to ancient Irish lore rather than a more fabricated background; there is also some science tied in with the magic behind the school), so while I can see where people would jump to the conclusion that Neff is trying to create his own version of HP, I just can't see it that way. He is trying to create a world that is entirely his, and just so happens to be using some of the same techniques that JK Rowling herself borrowed from other stories to create hers; because in all fairness JKR didn't come up with these ideas all on her own. She's just become really famous for it.
The real reason I picked up this book is because the title initially caught my eye, as my screen name is tapestry100. After reading the description and seeing as the book starts in Chicago, and appears to end in Ireland (or at least is tied to Irish lore), and as these are two of my favorite places, I decided to take a chance on the book, and so far I've not been disappointed.
More thoughts when I finish the book.