In this middle-grade fantasy, a young girl intervenes to save a kingdom under threat.
For years, two sovereigns rule peacefully over their East and West kingdoms. But King Alex grows envious of King Tristan’s prosperous and peaceful kingdom and is determined to become the wealthiest ruler in the land. His greed grows, aided by the machinations of his wizard, Max, who has plans of his own.
On King Alex’s orders, Max goes to King Tristan and becomes his “faithful” servant, all while casting evil spells, poisoning him and his family, and winning King Tristan’s loyalty. King Tristan’s lands and people suffer, and a young girl decides the only hope is to find the four magical sisters she has heard about in legends.
Ashley encounters numerous dangerous magical creatures on her journey but manages to find the four sisters and convince them to help King Tristan. This triggers an outright war between King Alex and King Tristan’s armies, aided on both sides by magic.
The author uses an effective storytelling device, inserting readers directly into the events by referring to King Tristan, for example, as “our beloved king” and to his kingdom as “our kingdom” She also offers some evocative settings, intriguing twists, and imaginative magical abilities.
Unfortunately, the writing is repetitive: a statement or even events appear several times, dulling the story. A larger issue is the lack of a clear protagonist. The kings’ conflict is given an overly lengthy set-up, creating an expectation that one of these characters will become the primary focus. Then Ashley is introduced near the halfway point, and it seems she will be the main character — but once the four fairly interchangeable sisters appear, Ashley is barely present.
This lack of focus makes it difficult for readers to invest in the outcome, as they haven’t formed any real attachments to the characters. Combined with the repetitive elements, the unfortunate result is an unsatisfying reading experience overall.
Also available in hardcover.