This fantasy debut follows an outcast dwarf as she’s caught up in an epic battle for the realm of Lavendelle.
Near the island of Lindisfarne is a haunted forest, within which is a hidden gate to the magical world of Lavendelle. It’s an enchanting, dangerous place, protected by elves willing to kill outsiders. Only one person, a man named Roarke, has ever returned home to speak of Lavendelle. When the young Drake Scott approaches Roarke about breaching the realm for an adventure, Roarke admonishes him; nevertheless, Drake journeys forth. In Lavendelle, meanwhile, lives a 15-year-old dwarf named Siv, who has red hair and green eyes, like no others of her race. When her aunt Martha falls ill, Siv undertakes a quest for the healing cassava root. This sets her on the path of a prophecy scribed over 700 years ago by the wizards Solomon and Elijah. Solomon has since died, but Elijah is now the powerful and respected head of the Wizard Council. In his youth, he helped remove the evil Malkavic and his goblin horde from power, creating lasting peace in Lavendelle. Now, with Drake on a reckless hunt for treasure and excitement and lunar cycles influencing good and evil, it’s time for unlikely heroes to arise. In his debut, author Leigh employs many time-tested fantasy components—dragons, cursed swords, submissive goblin underlings. Yet he writes with such a clear, earnest voice everything feels quite fresh. There’s grandeur in lines such as “evil flowed like lava from the volcano and entrapped...Lavendelle in its fiery grip.” While most of Leigh’s prose will enchant younger readers, there are sudden moments of very adult violence; in one scene, a bear is sliced and diced. Leigh also explores psychological elements, like the goblins being “vessels to be programmed” and the ethics of sharing information for the greater good. Overall, Leigh practices great dramatic economy, allowing everyone in his cast to fulfill his or her potential for good or evil.
This inventive, tightly plotted debut will entertain fantasy lovers of any age.