A preteen uses intriguing imaginative skill to learn courage, hard work and the power of imagination itself.
As an 11-year-old, Jack Andrew Fisher seemingly has little interest in matters of intellect; he simply wants to go to summer skateboard camp, regardless of what his report card says. He escapes from his boring family reunion by sneaking into his grandmother’s attic, when a bizarre event portals him to a world of unfamiliar people, bizarre creatures and benevolent/malevolent beings. He receives a generous tourist pass and is taken in by both the good-natured Widget Family and the curmudgeonly but virtuous Aladdeus Gaelblade. Jack learns that the people in his newfound world have a special gift of weaving—the ability to summon one’s imagination to create things. One must use weaving for only good purposes, of course, with the quality of the finished product dependent upon the weaver’s personal character and diligence. The tale skillfully builds when the reader learns that quality weaving will inevitably be required to thwart the revenge of the evil Grimsnipe. Rohan combines all the elements of basic fantasy—a young hero, mentors, villains, something to be saved, special powers and, of course, magical creatures—with the more elusive combination of great storytelling that appeals to a wide audience. The book’s combination of action, political intrigue with corruption, a love story (or stories), a bit of nostalgia and an endearing dog will certainly appeal to both boys and girls. The alternate world mingles quasi-historical fiction with fantasy, as men tip their hats to ladies, horses are used instead of cars and bread is baked fresh in the home. The fantasy cleverly parallels our contemporary world in notions such as terror and readily presenting one’s identification—a trend, indeed, of both reality and the genre. The number of characters and their qualities is significant but never the overwhelming amount characteristic of some stories in the genre. Humor is also judicious and subtle, as in the brainless, pear-shaped Bluntogs. It may be ironic that the epilogue is almost too explanatory; however, the theme of imagination’s creative power is enough to inspire the anticipation of an even bigger climax in a potential sequel.
Rohan weaves an engaging, imaginative tapestry.