I was sent a digital download of ‘Feyland: The Dark Realm’ by the author, Anthea Sharp, in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d read the synopsis and thought it sounded interesting but really, hadn’t the ‘teenagers-being-sucked-into-a-computer-game’ plot been done before? What really intrigued me, though, was the mention of the computer game being ‘a gateway to the dangerous Realm of the Faerie’. I love fairy tales, especially retold tales, so I decided to go in with an open mind. I try to always be open-minded and positive about things. I don’t want to jump to conclusions or pass judgement before I truly understand what’s going on. I’ve been burned before when I’ve done that and, even though I was pretty sure I knew what to expect, I still wanted to give the book a fair try. What I really didn’t expect, was to be actually drawn into the game myself! All I can say is, ‘Wow’!
The description of Feyland and it’s characters is, in itself, a great reason to read this book. The writing is like prose only… not so much. It’s hard to explain but you actually feel the words. I mean, ‘Sparkling like moonlight on frost’… ? Yep. Can’t you picture it… almost feel the chill? Or how about, ‘It was a cobweb whisper through his mind’? I know, right? You can actually hear a faint whisper floating through your head but then, you’re not quite sure if you really heard anything, or not. The whole book is like that. It’s wonderful! Even if you don’t have a very creative imagination, you’ll find yourself being able to see every level of Feyland in your mind.The Realm character descriptions are equally as magical. You’ll find yourself gasping at how wickedly beautiful the Dark Queen is, or wrinkling your nose at how bad the goblins smell. Your heart will quicken when there’s danger and you’ll catch your breath once you’re safe. You’ll recall fairy tales you saw or read as a child in every character you meet but they’ll seem totally unique, at the same time.
The human, or real world, is a drastic contrast in itself, as well as to Feyland. Everything is either decrepit and precarious, or impeccable and unassailable, almost like a sterile prison. In fact, the whole story seems to be a contradiction of itself as the two worlds fight against each other. As they start to bleed into one another, you begin to question where one world ends, and the other begins.
The mortal characters are pretty cool, too. Jennet, the heroine, has an endearing vulnerability that she continually pushes through to draw on her inner strength. As she travels through Feyland, she draws on this strength, at first, to save herself but eventually, to save those she loves, as well as all of mankind. Tam, the hero, is less than poor and, at first, seems kind of cold and aloof. He assumes that Jennet is judging him and works to appear indifferent. You find out why as his home life is revealed but you wonder how he’ll be able to help her with so much already on his plate. It’s soon apparent that there’s much more to Tam than you first assume. He’s a champion ‘Simmer’ (simulation computer game player), very responsible, and loyal to the bone. I’m convinced he’s among the very best Young Adult heroes out there.
The secondary characters aren’t described in much detail but, miraculously, you tend to get a pretty good picture of them through various situations and conversations. Some are detrimental to the plot, and some are just there to move the story along but the author gives you the sense that all of the characters are just as important as any of the others. There’s a definite ending to the story but, at the same time, there’s hope that the story will continue because it’s just that good. These briefly mentioned characters could very well play a larger role in Tam and Jennet’s future but, if they don’t, you feel as though you got to know them anyway.
I really, really enjoyed this book. This is one of those books where the words just flow so smoothly that you lose track of time. It’s almost like you’re actually lost in the play of a game and can’t believe what time it is when you finally look up. Books like that don’t come along all that often but when they do, you almost mourn them when you’re through. You miss the characters and actually yearn to read it again just so you can reconnect with them. Give this series a try, I’m convinced you won’t be sorry. You may even share a love/hate relationship with me once you’re done, sad that it’s already over.
Goodreads | Charli Denae Mercer’s review of Feyland: The Dark Realm
(The 2nd book in the Trilogy, ‘Feyland: The Bright Court’, is out now, with the 3rd to be released this fall, 2012.)