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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Review: Seabirdby Sherry Thompson

SeabirdOne might be tempted to think a story where a character gets whisked away to a strange fantasy world would be full of trite fantasy plots. You'll find none of that here. No elves, no dwarfs, wizards, dragons. Instead, you get enchanters, young ones, seabirds, and various people set in a well-crafted world, deep in its own history and cultures. Just exploring this new world with Cara is its own reward as Sherry Thompson does a great job of putting the reader firmly into this new world with detail and descriptions that paint a picture, but don't get in the way of the story.

But it doesn't stop there. While Lewis-like in its basic premise, the allegory, while there, is with a lighter touch. The Narentian god, Alphesis, is obviously an analogy to Jesus Christ. The character only appears at key moments and doesn't devolve into a deus ex machina solution to the dangers faced, a problem Lewis had in some of his Narnia novels. Nor would the secular reader feel they were preached at.

What you do have is a modern fantasy along the lines of Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams, but with Sherry Thompson's own stamp firmly on it, making it her story. Cara Marshall is pulled into this new world, where she goes from being the scared teenager, to reluctant hero, to finding in herself the ability to sacrifice her own desires for those of others. The character arc is well built and satisfying.

The writing is well done. It has a big of a choppy feel to it at times, but this is due to the character's thought patterns being on the fragmented side. Less than a handful of times I had to stop and think where she was going, but those were far and few in between, and didn't distract me. While you might spot a typo here and there, the grammar is clean, the writing in most cases clear, and the story well-told.

The story does get a little slow at the beginning as Cara fights her calling to save these people, but it quickly accelerates and the action grows intense. There is a good touch of humor and pathos to the story. Death is a reality, and Cara faces her own doubts and deals with them in multiple ways. The struggle feels real, and I found myself rooting for her.

This is an enjoyable read with an original story, a rich world, and a solid cast of characters, both the main character and the supporting cast. The story is great for young adults, even young teens, but will be appreciated by adults as well who enjoy a solid fantasy that isn't like everything else out there.

I recommend reading this book if you enjoy a good fantasy story.

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