The line between the Land of Mortals and the Land of Gods is blurred in Faulks’ debut YA fantasy novel.
During Orleigh’s birth, her mother dies. Ormoss, her father, sinks into a depression and is unable to care for her, so he has Meila, a villager who recently gave birth to a baby named Piprin, nurse his daughter, as well. Watching over all of this with displeasure is the Seer, as Orleigh is already defying the destiny that was written for her in the Script, because she was born in the wrong place without a mother. As the years pass and crops fail, the villagers blame Orleigh, believing that she’s cursed. Ormoss’ friend Scorlan seeks the advice of the Seer, who sees an opportunity to set Orleigh on the correct path; he advises Scorlan to give Orleigh to Teymos, the Earth God. When Orleigh disappears one night, the villagers believe that she’s dead. But 10 years later, Piprin, who’d been Orleigh’s childhood friend, overhears an old man tell a tale of handing a still-living girl to a god. Piprin sets out on a heroic quest, hoping to cross into the Land of Gods and find Orleigh. Along the way, he’ll meet the Seer, encounter a field of blood flowers, and attempt to pass through the Great Forest, which is full of creatures crafted from fallen mortals’ souls. Faulks’ worldbuilding is fantastic and intricate, weaving in elements of myth. For example, she tells of “the creator” unraveling herself to form the threads of the world and of flowers curtsying at Teymos’ feet; she also reveals that a vial of immortal blood worn around one’s neck can protect one from forest beasts and that the Seer sets figurines onto a map, just as everyday people set pieces on a game board. The only frustrating elements are the repeated insinuations regarding Orleigh’s fate; readers will quickly understand that she’s special, so the repeated hints about the “unraveling” of the Script seem excessive.
Tales of myth intertwine in this lush and often engaging fantasy.