In Safronoff’s (Evening Breezes, 2013, etc.) wild, exciting middle-grade yarn, three youngsters stumble upon a mystery that may have terrible implications for their strange world of floating trees.
Barra is a young Listlespur, an agile, catlike humanoid who dwells in a treetop environment that its inhabitants call “the Loft.” After she stumbles across the secret journals of her father—an intrepid, and now missing, explorer—she falls headfirst into a mystery. Quite literally, in fact: while attempting to prove one of her father’s theories, Barra and her friends, Plicks and Tory (a batlike Kolalabat and a humanoid Rugosic, respectively), fall from the heights of their leafy home down into the darkness of the Root. There, they face strange monsters, a deadly, creeping fungus, and a malevolent intelligence bent on consuming the world. They also confront the corrupt Elder Jerrun, who’s a threat not only to Barra’s mother, Brace, but to the entire Loft. Barra and her friends must find a way to survive, ascend back to the Loft, and save their home from danger. Safronoff beautifully and vividly portrays this fictional world and the characters that populate it. The biology and biodiversity of the arboreal land are detailed and well-thought-out, and the author ably shows how each of the characters, and their species, fit into the greater picture. For example, Barra’s claws and curiosity help her explore and take on the mission that her father left behind; Plicks’ Kolalabat ears also come in handy more than once. The prose, aimed at a young audience, is a bit simplistic, which can be disappointing at times. However, readers will forgive this flaw, as the world and its inhabitants remain engaging.
A fun, unique tale with a lot to offer readers looking for something different from standard fantasy fare.