In Ragsdale’s debut, the first in a planned YA fantasy trilogy, a young girl who has lost everything must save an entire race on an alien planet.
Leyla Cassidy’s world shatters when a car accident kills her parents and leaves her lost in the forest with extensive injuries. She’s barely alive when rescuers find her and take her to the hospital. Leyla soon remembers a voice that came to her in the woods, willing her to live and urging her to save a distant people. With nothing left for her on Earth, she decides to be transported to an alien world. Once there, she learns that she has been chosen to protect an entire race by becoming their memory keeper. An honor given solely to their own kind, the decision to choose a human does not come without opposition. Even when Leyla becomes an Uluran—albeit with some complications—not everyone thinks that she’s the right choice. Driven by a compelling narrative with multifaceted characters, the novel satisfies on many levels. Fantasy lovers will appreciate a world with talking animals, supernatural events and mystical creatures. The tale does not rely on genre gimmicks. Instead, it’s fueled by the emotional narrative of a young girl dealing with tragedy and trying to mature into a wise leader. Leyla is a typical teenager, headstrong and taciturn, but her compassionate nature and integrity make her sympathetic. Her surrounding cast, which includes a telepathic squirrel and a bird, is well-drawn and adds depth. This large ensemble, however, sometimes overwhelms. The many characters and plot developments can be hard to follow, especially for the intended YA audience. Some minor plot elements, e.g., a scene where Leyla packs for her journey, are overly detailed, while other more significant events, like an epic climactic battle, feel underdeveloped.
While at times unbalanced, this YA fantasy is fresh and fast-paced; a promising start to the trilogy.