Newcomer Petersen uses children’s fantasy to shine a light on esoteric and New Age beliefs.
Stella Merriss’ parents keep their small family constantly on the move. Amid yet another escape, this time via boat, they are lost at sea and she is left to seek her own safety. Fortunately, the universe is guiding her to her ultimate destination, to become an apprentice angel at the Citadel. As she learns more about the Laws of the Universe, she also learns more about herself and her identity as both angel and mermaid just in time to face off against would-be despot Sylvain. The universal laws that govern Stella’s world share much in common with the teachings of The Kybalion and other hermetic philosophical teachings. Though the Chronicles of Narnia and His Dark Materials, among others, have used children’s fantasy to great effect in introducing a particular worldview, both do so with such nuance that even nonadherents can enjoy the worldbuilding. Petersen has no such subtlety. Here the moral teachings frequently clobber readers and nearly strangle the plot. This, along with awkward use of colloquial American English within the fantasy realm and uneven pacing, especially in the beginning, makes for an unpolished read. While there is certainly an audience for spiritual but not religious books for children, Stella’s story is wanting. The book adheres to the white default.
Reads like a rough draft of a potentially compelling tale. (Fantasy. 8-12)