Beings from a magical world try to protect four children who are destined to save a land tyrannized by an evil elf in this YA fantasy debut.
It’s been seven years since elfin Darius murdered the royal families of the land of Ocaba. Opal and Minerva are just two of the individuals who, back then, helped four children (one from each of the land’s kingdoms) escape: two boys, Koda and Dungan, and two girls, Alill and Thryn. They’re hiding from Darius, now Ocaba’s reigning king, and guarded by miniatures, 2-foot-tall humans who can morph into animals. Residing in another world, one relying on machinery and electronics, none of the youngsters have memories of their homeland or are aware of their dormant powers. But cognizance is on the horizon, like Thryn’s gradual realization that she’s hearing—and responding to—others’ thoughts. Darius, meanwhile, using dark magic to control people in Ocaba, discovers that Opal, once the queen, is still alive, so he can’t truly be king. He’s determined to track down Opal and the children of the prophecy, which proclaims them as Ocaba’s rescuers. The children eventually find their way to Ocaba, but soon one is a captive of the black-hearted elf. Keller’s engrossing tale is chock-full of characters with varying dilemmas (some are a part of Ocaba’s growing rebellion) and vivid back stories (the shocking origin of Darius’ ire). A Christian theme is pronounced but not overwhelming: Darius is a “fallen elf,” while Opal and Minerva take solace in praying to the Creator. Though myriad fantastical elements abound (portals and winged unicorns), Keller’s simple, unadorned prose often deftly inserts pragmatic aspects into the tale: “He awoke again to the snoring of the magical miniature in human form.” The narrative successfully couples familiar problems (Alill swayed by peer pressure to drink and smoke) with otherworldly ones (the girl tempted by a kingdom’s lavish wealth). The first installment of a proposed trilogy, the book ends with a clear setup for a subsequent volume.
A focused plot and memorable characters with formidable abilities create an impressive series launch.