I had seen the book cover for Talisman of El and was fascinated by it so, when the author approached me about reading and possibly reviewing it, I couldn’t resist. When I saw the trailer (see below), I got even more excited about reading it.
This is Book #1 of a YA scifi/fantasy trilogy that, like many YA novels, will also appeal to adult readers. Last but not least – Alecia has provided an autographed copy of Talisman of El for one lucky reader to win!
“What if your whole life was a lie?
Humans … 7 billion.
Others … unknown.”
Fourteen-year-old Charlie Blake has nightmares. The problem is that when he has a nightmare, it comes true. Still he’s afraid to tell anybody because they won’t believe him, just like they didn’t believe him about the prophetic dream he had the night before his dad died four years ago. He’s terrified to go to sleep and it makes him feel like a helpless freak. He’d give anything to be normal.
“Three thousand miles away, Charlie Blake jolted awake. He clutched at his chest as he tried to catch his breath. His heart was racing, his body trembling. He looked up at the bearded, heavy-set man standing over him, and it was then that he realized he was on the floor.”
After his dad died, Charlie was fostered with and later adopted by a local undertaker, Jacob Willoughby. Jacob seemed nice when Charlie was fostered with him but, once the adoption was finalized, Charlie learned he isn’t at all what he seems. Jacob is a thief and an abusive bully. He only adopted Charlie so he will have someone to help him steal from the homes of people who die. Charlie wants none of it, so he spends most of his time locked in his room.
“This went on for a bit, but when he finally connected it all, he gasped. Without thinking, he blurted out, ‘You’re a thief!’
Jacob clamped a hand over his mouth. ‘Be quiet,’ he said in a low yet stern voice. Shoving Charlie, he took a few steps toward the house but stopped when he realized Charlie wasn’t following him. ’We haven’t got all day.’
Charlie blinked, dazed. He was certain he was dreaming. ‘You can’t be serious.’
To make matters even worse Charlie’s also bullied by kids at school. There’s no place where he feels safe, except with his friend Alex who has protected him ever since they met. Alex is a kick-butt, take-no-prisoners girl. While exploring one day, they come across Richmond, who’s an orphan living in a vacant house.
The three of them stumble onto Derkein Odessa, a 27 year-old man who looks like he’s at least 60. Derkein explains that he’s protecting a relic, a talisman he wears around his neck, and something about that talisman is aging him rapidly. They think Durkein’s a bit mad until they witness him growing older. Every day he also grows weaker as he ages. Durkein has to get to Arcadia so he can stop aging or he will die in a matter of days or weeks.
“’The ironic thing is that my father always lectured me about growing up,’ he heard Durkein say. ‘Now I can’t seem to stop.’…With the door now closed, the room was warmer.
‘You all right?’ Derkein asked him. Charlie stared at him in shock. ‘The truth was a little too much for you, huh?’
Charlie looked away. ‘You have no idea.’ He still couldn’t fathom how or why he had dreamt about Derkein. Another thing he couldn’t get his mind around was why of all the cities in the entire world, [the American] Derkein had turned up in Capeton…’I think I’m crazy,’ he confessed…’This can’t be happening.’”
The only problem is that Arcadia is another world inside of the planet Charlie and Alex know as their world. There are portals into Arcadia that are only open at certain times during the year. If they miss the next portal opening, or can’t find it, Derkein will be done for. He warns them that even if they find Arcadia, it may be as difficult to get back as it is to get into Arcadia. Charlie and Richmond have no problem with that, given that their lives in their world aren’t too great to begin with. Alex? Well, she isn’t going to let Charlie go off on an adventure without her there to protect him.
When the portal is found and they make it to Arcadia, that’s when the fun really begins. Arcadia is divided into kingdoms full of mythical and paranormal beings. There are fairies, werewolves, vampires, demons, angels, dragons, and every kind of creature you can imagine living in Arcadia. It isn’t long before Charlie begins to suspect why he never felt normal in his world above. Could he be an Arcadian?
Unfortunately, Arcadia’s kingdoms are in trouble and if they fall then the humans in the world above will be enslaved and/or destroyed by demons. Because of who the Arcadians believe Charlie to be, he and his friends are soon sent on a quest through increasingly dangerous territory to help save the kingdoms from demons.
Sound too fantastical to be believable? Think again. It is utterly believable. All of the characters were written with a lot of depth. I loved their individual little quirks. Charlie and his friends are characters who were easy for me to identify with. They have integrity, inner strength, and good hearts. The adults in Talisman of El are as three-dimensional as the teens, and are as integral to the storyline – something that isn’t always found in YA fiction.
Alecia Stone has a degree in film and I believe her writing shows that training. Talisman of El is very visual and she’s used the best elements of screenwriting and filmmaking in creating this novel. She’s taken the paranormal beings we love in fantasy, mixed them with science fiction, added in the best of classic mythology, and created from all of these elements a fascinating story that’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. I loved every minute of it! Talk about a great roller coaster ride – Six Flags has nothing over this one! I’d love to see it made into a film. Am I gushing? You will be too. And one lucky reader will win an autographed copy! WooHoo!
Can’t wait to read it?
Talisman of El was published on May 20, 2012, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
I’d love to get your comments on Talisman of El, Alecia Stone, and/or this review.
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One lucky reader will win an autographed paperback copy of Talisman of El by Alecia Stone!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 6/2/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
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