Title: Talisman of El
Author: Alecia Stone
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing
Genre: YA contemporary fantasy
Imagine if there was another world in the centre of the earth, one called Arcadia where angels, both the fallen and the guardian kind live. The Garden of Eden is there too and the Tree of Life and the records of the lives of all mankind over the ages. In the Talisman of El, 14-year-old Charlie Blake and his friends learn that what they’ve come to suspect is true. But something Charlie never suspected is also true. He has a role to play, not only in the war torn country’s healing, but also in mankind’s future.
Charlie is an orphan. Though he longs to fit in somewhere, he’s always felt different. The story begins after one of his prophetic dreams just after he has come to live with a new foster parent. He has hopes that this man will become his father and that he will finally have found his home. Not so. Instead he begins a roller coaster ride from one strange occurrence to another and eventually into Arcadia itself. At this point, the mystery becomes an adventure, and Charlie finds out things about himself that he finds hard to believe. He also finds that he is the only one who can save a friend. But will he succeed and at what price?
The Talisman of El is a good story, unpredictable and hard to put down. The characters are likeable, well drawn and easy to relate to.
I particularly enjoyed the rich imagery in this story. Arcadia has great scenery, awesome architecture and fascinating shape-shifting beings that glow in their spirit form.
Structurally, it’s a bit odd near the end when we find ourselves abruptly back in the real world with many questions left unanswered. For a while it seems as if we’re reading a different book, but it all comes together in an excellent ending.
Most readers of contemporary fantasy would enjoy this book, but the writing could have been a lot better. In particular, the author greatly overuses words that end in ing, especially at the beginning of sentences which makes the action seem incidental or unimportant, thus removing the reader from the action. Used occasionally, this is fine, (once in 10,000 words one of my writing tutors suggested) but too often and it weakens the writing and gives an amateurish feel. A good copy editor should have picked this up. I suggest that the writer purchase a copy of Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Following the guidelines in that book should fix up the problems in the writing.
Nevertheless, I think we have the beginning of an excellent series here. I hope we can look forward to an improvement in the prose in the next installment, because Stone has captured my imagination and I’d like to read on. 3 stars.
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