Two teens find themselves in a mystical reality where they must battle to save their lives in Fraedrich’s debut YA fantasy.
Taryn and Ozzie—two young adolescents who dislike each other—suddenly land in an alternate reality together. Taryn awakes in the middle of the night to find she’s not dreaming as she suspected, but rather in “a vast, green, moonlit forest.” After realizing Ozzie is there with her, she meets De’dua, a centaurlike creature who befriends them and provides them with shelter and food. The two teens want to return home and are told they must journey to another town, Truewood, to seek the advice of someone named Girall, an omniscient creature. The encounter with the seemingly decrepit old man launches them on an epic journey through forests, mountains and small towns, where they fight ghosts, vampires, shape-shifters. They also befriend elves, including one named Tynx who joins them on their journey and forms a close bond with Taryn, and a doglike creature named Heinz. Their ultimate task is to find and defeat Vurnal, the evil leader. Armed only with two magic stones, Taryn and Ozzie devise a plan to defeat Vurnal with science, something the creatures of this alternative land do not know much about. Just before the suspense-filled final battle scene, Fraedrich reveals the troubling past that broke the teens’ friendship: a boat accident left Ozzie’s father and Taryn’s 5-year-old brother dead. Taryn faces her resentment with Ozzie: “[H]er heart yearned to continue to lay blame, but she fought against it.” Using their magic rocks, they produce chemical formulas that cause Vurnal to “leak” to death. Taryn and Ozzie fall into a deep sleep that night and awake back in their beds as if no time had passed. The writing is suspenseful and colorful, and well-developed characters continually entertain. Vivid description paints a clear and imaginative picture of a mythological landscape and its denizens. Fraedrich delivers a tale about friendship and triumph over adversity that translates to any time, space or audience.
An exciting, engaging adventure about defeating evil and reconnecting the bonds of friendship; perfect for igniting adolescent imaginations.