The Tethered World (the rare review of an author I know!)

It’s not every day that I get to review a book by an author I personally know.

It’s not every book that I eagerly turn to the acknowledgements in first either.

But when my first edition copy of The Tethered World by a certain, Heather L.L. Fitzgerald, arrived in the mail, I did both.

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“To my sisters in Manet Writer’s Group, I’m incredibly thankful for each of you. Your encouragement, love, and laughter, your talents and insight…all add up to a great joy and delight in my life. I know my adventure is only the first to be published among the many worthy tales told around coffee and finger foods.”

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That’s my writing group! I joined the group late in the formation of Heather’s novel, so I was not very involved in the editing stage of her novel but I did spend a lovely summer afternoon with Heather on our hostess, Abby Jones’, porch after our writer’s luncheon one day in 2014, hearing about her journey as a writer, the challenges of publication, and our mutual fascination with Cryptozoology. In addition to the thrill of personal connection, I have a far deeper appreciation for all the hard-work and time that went into the creation of Heather’s book than I do with most books. All of which makes it a very special treat to now hold her book, The Tethered World, in my hands.

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What if I told you that Bigfoot creatures are real? And not only real, but quite numerous. And that they even have a hideous tyrant of a King in a subterranean land where they go by their ancient and only slightly more believable name, Trolls.

Well, you might be as skeptical as 16-year-old Sadie Larcen. She’s used to being different–being the oldest of six children, all homeschooled, one autistic, and one adopted from Ethiopia is considered strange by many, but all of that is nothing to what she learns about her family lineage.

Guardians of the Tethered World, heirs to the throne in the Land of Legend? You’ve got to be joking. But there’s no time to challenge the facts, Sadie’s parents are in grave peril. Under the guidance of her spunky Irish Aunt Jules, Sadie must enter the land of legend with three of her siblings and come to their parents’ rescue with the help of some exotic new friends. Trolls, Leprechauns, Gnomes, Dwarves, Meadow Fairies, Dragons, Clovenbears, Elves, Ogres, Hippogriffs, Nephilim, a rare sighting of a Water Nymph! –it’s a lot to take in and Sadie struggles to lay aside her own pride, selfishness, discomfort, and fears and trust God as she gets carried along on a wild, high-stakes adventure she never asked for.

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I look forward to sharing Sadie’s story with my younger siblings (who are already bubbling with excitement over a book featuring Bigfoot), and the young people of my church (among whom I’m known as Emmy the Librarian). It is challenging to keep up a steady flow of wholesome literature for voracious young readers so I’m immensely grateful for Heather’s contribution as I expect many parents will be as well. Book two is due for release this October! 

A Quote Off My Shelf

“…time has a way of leading a person along a crooked path. Sometimes the path is hard to hold to and people fall off along the way. They curse the road for its steep grades and muddy ruts and settle themselves in hinterlands of thorn and sorrow, never knowing or dreaming that the road meant all along to bring them home. Some call that road a tragedy and lose themselves along it. Others, those who call it home, call it an adventure.” –The Fiddler’s Gun, A. S. Peterson

This book is breaking my heart already, but I trust the road to lead me home.

Reviewer’s Digest//Fantasy and Sci-Fi

The Book of Dragons, selected and illustrated by Michael Hague

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Read August 24th-31st

This collection features several delightful dragon stories I’d never heard before or heard only in part. My one critique is that the illustrations didn’t always fit, the dragons often being more cartoonish and whimsical than fierce and magnificent as the stories describe them.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson (Wordsworth Classics)

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Read from October 20th-27th

The featured and famous short story “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is refreshingly Calvinistic in its eloquent and provocative portrait of human depravity. I give it five stars. The other short stories in this collection range from 1 star to 4. One crossed the line into useless and awful horror for its own sake (“Thrawn Janet”), several were dull and dragged, lacking the refinement of Stevenson’s later mastery of the short story form but still containing several lines worth underlining, and two stories, “The Merry Men” and “Markheim”, I found almost as riveting and intellectually stimulating as “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.”

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton

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Read November 6th-8th
5 Stars

The story opens and moves with the kind of childish silliness that makes you purse your lips, roll your eyes, shake your head, then smile despite yourself. Despite my grown-up sensibilities I caught myself laughing at wandering mangrove trees, giant poison-tongued tortoises that drop out of willow trees on unsuspecting victims, an imaginative girl determined to save the world (from–whatever it needs saving from!), a 12-year-old King who works to tears the citizens of the Island-At-The- Center-Of-Everything to provide a steady supply of pepper to satisfy his inordinate appetite for the spice, a man so long accustomed to shrinking from danger that his body has begun to shrink inside his now-oversized clothes and–of course, at a giant that is asleep under the island and may at any point wake up. Especially if the Leafeaters keep digging around his toes.

But underneath the ridiculous is a current of serious thought that will take you by surprise. You never stop laughing but somewhere along the way, so subtly that you don’t know quite when it began, you start thinking as well. You think about bigness and smallness. Of fear and adventure. Of strength and weakness. Of mystery and life’s frailty.

Life is both more terrifying and wonderful than we realize. It is “a mess and a miracle. So pick up a broom and dance.”

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

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Read October 30th
The first couple chapters were exciting. I loved the style of narration and was immediately draw into the unfolding story. But in the end, the story left me burdened by the sadness dystopias always bring me.

I am increasingly leery of the dystopian craze among my own peers. I think that the occasional dystopian novel is helpful to the Christian because of its unique ability to explore the implications of secular worldviews in a way abstract arguments can’t. Instead of telling you that communism is a dead- end road, they make you feel the oppression, ride the roller-coaster, and recoil in horror as the oppressed pigs of Animal Farm come to take on the likeness and behaviors of the Farmers they overthrew; instead of telling you that Darwinian evolution offers a hopeless future, they make you feel the coldness, the despair, and the emptiness of a godless universe deep down in your bones.

I need these reminders now and then, of just how hopeless the world is without Christ, of just how hopeless the espoused beliefs of many of my neighbors are. But I also think that if this kind of literature and film becomes our main staple and dominates our minds and affections, despite our cognitive disagreement with the worldview presented, the coldness and darkness of it will still subconsciously creep into our own worldview. We’ll begin to accept their view of reality as congruent with our own. I see it in young people of my generation manifested in a profound skepticism that there is hope for the world on the horizon, forgetting that Hope has arrived and He’s coming back and that that has profound implications for humanity. The future we face is neither dark nor cold nor uncertain and we need to be reminded of the hopefulness of our faith at least as often as we are reminded of the hopelessness of all others.

Other Fantasy and Sci-Fi books read in the second half of 2014: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, the Harry Potter books 1-4, The Hobbit (again)
Other General Fiction books read in the second half of 2014: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (click for review)

Songs of Asaph: Little Boy Heart Alive (Andrew Peterson)

#8. LITTLE BOY HEART ALIVE
Andrew Peterson

This song beautiful captures the adventure-hungry, imaginative delight of childhood, these desires stemming from a call to be swept up in something greater than our own stories, by a love “so good but [that] is not tame”.

Can you capture all the fantasy literature references?

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