Melaine Bryant likes goblins, castles, fairies, and the age-old quest motif. She’s an expert at creating a world where good and evil duke it out, as symbolized by the waxing and waning forces of darkness and light. A Santa Monica-based author, Bryant has given a seemingly ordinary little girl the ultimate powers of goodness, putting her in hand-to-hand combat with all kinds of otherworldly creatures to rescue humankind from dark forces. The Prophecy Keepers is a fantasy novel infused with girl-power that tracks the journey of a plain Jane struggling to embrace her extraordinary gifts.
And Bryant is just getting warmed up.
The book is the first in a series of five books that center on the adventures of 14-year-old Lisandra Ackart, an unadorned young woman of meager financial means. Lisandra is raised by a somewhat suffocating single mother with whom she struggles for some semblance of teenage freedom. When she finds out her fate is to save her fellow humans of Niwengeard from eternal darkness, Lisandra’s troubles initially go from bad to worse. She accepts her destiny with all the reluctance and awkward self-consciousness of an average teenage girl, but her bravery builds as her quest to fend off the demons that threaten humanity takes her to strange, distant lands, where mysterious beings abound. Part of her job is to save her little brother, Loki, who has been imprisoned by the Dark Queen, Lucifæra, and might never make it home without big sister’s bravery.
The book is fun throughout and young adults are sure to be hooked from the start, whether they identify with Lisandra’s plight as a teenager struggling for freedom from her mother or her deep sense of loss at the death of her father. Those young people who like to get lost amidst unreal creatures of the underworld or imagine themselves wrangling with shape-shifting bad guys will appreciate the myriad beings Bryant creates, some of which carry gleefully familiar characteristics that make them akin to figures in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. But Bryant has a unique voice and a fresh-faced heroine that fights the good battle every bit as hard as Tolkien’s Frodo. The most compelling material in the text is that of Lisandra’s transformation from a shy girl with a modest level of self-esteem into a young woman approaching self confidence. Though she still has some growing up to do, the promise of her future evolution will keep readers on board in anticipation of future books in the series.
The book’s audience is clearly middle school and high school students, but environmentalists may also appreciate The Prophecy Keepers for its substantive section about man’s mutilation of trees and the dark ramifications of waging war against our arboreal neighbors.
The Prophecy Keepers, Empyrean Hill Books, hardcover, $21.95, available at www.amazon.com.