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The Spectacular Life of Benito Martin del Canto

The Spectacular Life of Benito Martin del Canto

By: David Towner
Publisher: Splash Marketing
Publication Date: May 9, 2023
ISBN: 979-8988353010
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: May 25, 2023

Writer and entertainer David Towner has added to his accomplishments a riveting tale within a tale, exploring life’s deepest mysteries through the medium of literature, history, and one young girl’s perspicacity and persistence.

Taryn is an avid reader, twelve years old when her father Peter, knowing her love of weird books, brings home a gift from a trip to Spain – a shabby, time-worn volume that oddly seems to have been written entirely by hand. Taryn, highly intelligent, can read and speak Spanish and is immediately entranced by the autobiography of a man who was left in the woods as a child and raised by a herd of mountain goats. Prodigy Benito, born in 1500s Spain, is teaching school in a monastery by age two when his account begins, and only a few years later, commanding a rough-hewn boat to sail to the New World in defense of the interests of his nation. Along the way, he will encounter a slave ship and free its captured African occupants, using a shark as an ally. As Taryn reads, she shares her book with her Spanish teacher, Alice, who becomes increasingly fascinated by the archaic volume. With her knowledge of ancient literature, Alice becomes convinced that its author is none other than Miguel Cervantes, widely thought of as the world’s first novelist. Clues for this assumption sparkle through Benito’s narrative, so Alice decides she must take possession of Taryn’s book and send it to scholarly authorities. Taryn, meanwhile, is agonizing over the dreadful coma that her father has fallen into, hoping to communicate with him by reading from the book he so kindly gifted her.

Towner, whose accomplishments include the creation of the highly popular graphic novel series, Aztec Warrior God, is a Spanish speaker and former military man, able to bring to this enthralling story multiple experiences and endowments. His book jumps from the current day and the loneliness of Taryn sitting by her father’s hospital bed, to the darkness of medieval prisons and the gleam of royal dwellings that confront the wild, wily genius Benito. Towner’s wide range of artistic abilities includes a grasp of the life of Cervantes with its complex historical underpinnings, the imagination to restyle what is known about him into someone pretending to be, or perhaps being, that renowned figure, and the empathy to see the mysteries unfold through the eyes of a bright young female.

Quill says: The Spectacular Life of Benito Martin del Canto provides a panorama that, though targeted for young adults, will mesmerize readers of any age, causing those who have not heretofore encountered David Towner’s talents to thirst for more of his handiworks.

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