They say don’t judge a book by its front cover. Well, I did.1 Oh, this cover was sweet and pretty. But it didn’t quite look like the sort of fantasy I was interested in, plus modern-day kids dropping into another world isn’t my fantasy of choice.
But I was wrong on both accounts. This is a fantastic book!
Willis writes with a clear, confident style both refreshing and engaging to pull you into her story as much as the character is pulled into a book. While I’ve read some fantasy where the plot is lost on the adventure as the characters encounter all kinds of fantastic beings, Willis guided the reader along quite skillfully, losing me only once (probably because I was reading too fast in desperation to discover the fate of certain centaurs).
While this world and idea may be akin to The Chronicles of Narnia (and that is a beautiful thing), it takes on an entire path of its own as it cleverly builds a world in which characters do not truly die, but are bound to the Plot, sworn to relive the same story over and over whenever a reader picks up the book in which they dwell. But what happens when characters rebel? When they go outside the Plot? What happens when it is discovered that characters might have changed the Plot long ago? That the story is no longer how the Author meant it to be? The cleverness of this book and the profound allegory simply delighted me.
I was also impressed with the characters, Posy in particular. She wasn’t the can’t-do-anything-fainting sort of girl nor the the one who could trample any of her problems. She was real. She was scared, but determined to keep her head. She didn’t always make the right choice and was silly at times, but attempted to make up for it. Kyran also was a good character, both immature at points and terribly mature at others. And the villains. I applaud the villains. I actually wasn’t quite sure who the real villain was and when I thought I knew, it turned out someone else was influencing that person and so on! It was really quite amusing to see them all try to control each other and think that they were winning!
But my favorite part of this book, hands down, was the centaurs. Let me make this clear. I’ve always thought centaurs were weird. I mean … bare-chested guys rising out the body of a horse? Weeeeeeird! Okay, so the ones in the The Chronicles of Narnia films were kind of impressive, but still. … Well, this book changed all that. Think centaurs — elven style. Suddenly I was a fan. Probably my biggest complaint with this book was that the centaurs were not on page enough!
Violence: There is battle, but graphic description is nonexistent. Some characters appear to have been beaten and whipped while captured, but that was off scene.
Sexual content: Posy develops a crush on Kyran, of course, and eventually romance blooms between them to the point that they share kisses. It felt a little rushed, and she was only 15, but still that felt kind of realistic. I really couldn’t see them going through this without getting crushes on each other! And personally, I feel that this was the author quietly making fun of all the crushes we girls will get on a guy in a book, but … he’s in a book. Not going to work.
It’s vaguely hinted that the king might have had an immoral relationship at one point, but who really knows? Not the reader.
Bad language: None.
Spiritual: This allegory paralleling our own messed up world who doesn’t even acknowledge the Author anymore is unique and stunning! It beautifully explains the perfect love of allowing choice. Really, really well done!
I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to whatever else the author has to offer. More centaurs, please!