A solid fledgling effort by a new voice in the fantasy genre.



An occasionally banal but frequently imaginative story of political intrigue and mystical wonder set in a well-rendered fictional world.

Under the rule of the kings of Oridia, peace has prevailed for three centuries in the sprawling kingdom of Zalar. Oridia is ruled by the wise King William, a benevolent leader whose reign is drawing to a close. As the time nears for William to be succeeded by his son, the talented but green soldier Lionel, the young commander is called to lead an expeditionary force to the outland city of Am Nok Kar, where a small band of Oridian soldiers and traders has recently disappeared. The Oridians suspect the Nomads–a traditionally peaceful but mysterious race of desert magicians–of wiping out the group, but cannot discern the reason for the mages’ sudden violence. However, the prospect of a newly war-like Nomad clan is the least of their problems. As Lionel’s troops ready for battle, the Ricidians–a long-time rival of the Oridians–have formed an alliance with the lizard-like, barbaric clan of the Ramuluks, and the two groups are secretly conspiring to bring an end to King William’s reign. Much to the young author’s credit, the characterization of the Oridians and the Ricidians is not beholden to a Manichean system that cleanly pits evil forces against good. Instead, the characters are simply rendered but multifaceted, capable of both altruism and vice. As the mayhem unfolds, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems, and that events are being orchestrated by a much more powerful–and much more malevolent–demonic force.

A solid fledgling effort by a new voice in the fantasy genre.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-9773665-0-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2011

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Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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The riveting true story of a 13-year-old boy living on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, as do thousands of children, without shelter or hope. Holtwijk submerses readers into Alex’s reality, his diminishing dreams, and his fears. His stepfather drives him from his home when his mother dies; on the streets he meets a few kind people, but ends up living with a gang whose members survive by theft and find solace sniffing glue. Alex knows the dangers of glue and wants to remain honest, hoping only for “a bed and a mother,” but his terror increases daily as he learns to steal. He reluctantly makes one drug run, and uses his pay to buy a real dinner and one night in a hotel. He’s eventually rescued, but many others are not. Holtwijk constructs Alex’s world, conjures the terrors of his nights, makes specific his stolen and begged food, his filthy clothes and matted hair, and his attempts to cling to innocence. Readers will inhabit Alex’s life, for a time, and they will understand and admire him, deeply. (Nonfiction. 14+)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1999

ISBN: 1-886910-24-3

Page Count: 183

Publisher: Lemniscaat/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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