Five Stars:

 

“We crossed carpets of leaves, stepped over logs crusted with fungus like fairy dishes and cups; we traversed aprons of moss so plush that I felt guilty to set my feet there, as if I were blundering over someone’s bed.”  Doesn’t that sound like a lovely forest to walk through or play in? Why, then, is the boy warned to not enter that forest seen from his grandmother’s windows?

 

“We crossed carpets of leaves, stepped over logs crusted with fungus like fairy dishes and cups; we traversed aprons of moss so plush that I felt guilty to set my feet there, as if I were blundering over someone’s bed.”

 

This gentle, lyrical fantasy features a young boy as the main character and narrator, but the book is definitely for adults or precocious teens who like poetic writing. There is a war going on, one that felt like Italy in WWII, but which war and which place are never specified. Even the names are not specified so I assume the author was intending for this to be a universal story of a child growing up on the edge of turbulence and surrounded by love.

 

A boy is sent away from the war to live at his grandmother’s in a small, drowsy village that should be too small to attract attention of enemy combatants. The warm summer encourages exploration of the village and harbor. At one point, the boy is so bored by the services at the church that his grandmother drags him to he asks if they couldn’t skip a service. His grandmother replies, “Skip church! Shall we just cancel Christmas and next Easter while we’re at it?”

 

The only excitement occurs when an airplane is shot down and lands in the harbor. But where is the pilot?

 

The grandmother’s back garden backs onto a wood full of mystery. The villagers tell him not to go to the wood because of the monsters. What other motivation is needed for a boy to explore the shady forest on drowsy, summer days while Grandmother is shopping for food? However, the day after the airplane is downed,  Grandmother takes the boy into the wood where they find a man hanging from his parachute in the canopy of trees, one of the enemy, as his uniform displays. The man tries to shoot the grandmother and the boy, but he is so wounded he drops the gun.

 

What should they do? If they turn the man into the authorities, he will be interrogated and shot, something the boy doesn’t want to be responsible for. Oddly enough, Grandmother wants to save the injured soldier. She is helped by an odd, old man who drags the enemy to a tower to hide him. Surrounding the tower is an abandoned garden filled with statues of monsters, animals and mythical figures with odd inscriptions on them and covered over by wild vines.

 

Surrounding the tower is an abandoned garden filled with statues of monsters, animals and mythical figures with odd inscriptions on them and covered over by wild vines.

 

It turns out that the inscriptions are a riddle to be solved- before the injured enemy is discovered by the local soldiers who are watching the Grandmother and her grandson closely. Can they discover the gateway to the land of fae?

 

I wrote earlier that the book is for adults and precocious teens. I think the book could also be read to grade schoolers in the fourth to sixth grades who are dealing with grief. They might be interested to learn how this nine year old boy acts out his grief. They might learn some words to apply to what they are feeling.

 

Ratings:

Heat: Basically none, though the boy is embarrassed by some classical nude statues and the soldier engages in some subtle innuendo.

Swearing: None. All the language is beautiful.

Violence: There is medical care for violence off-stage.

 

This book is available on Amazon.

 

Lelia Rose Foreman has raised and released five children. Everyone survived. She also homeschooled fourteen years with similar results. You can find her Christian science-fiction, A Shattered World in English or Spanish. She writes science fantasy adventure, Tales from Talifar with her oldest son, a video game artist, under the name Rose Foreman. You can contact Josh Foreman at breathoflifedev.com

 

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