Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Write-Up: The Word Changers, by Ashlee Willis

Ashlee Willis.  The Word Changers.  Conquest Publishers, 2014. ISBN-10: 0990397912. ISBN-13: 978-0990397915.  See here to purchase the book.

The Word Changers is Christian fantasy for young adults.  While I am not part of the book’s target audience, I enjoyed reading it.

The book is about Posy, a fifteen-year old from a dysfunctional family.  She is pulled into a fantasy book about a land with a king, a queen, a prince, a princess, intelligent owls, centaurs, and mermaids.  The reason that Posy was pulled into the book is so she can take the place of the Princess Evanthe, who ran away.  Posy is now to act as Princess Evanthe.

The characters are fully aware that they are characters in a book that has readers.  Whenever a reader opens the book, the characters are supposed to assume their roles and act according to the plot.  (As one of the characters in the book says, you do not know what the book’s characters are doing when you are not reading it!)  The problem is that the king and the queen have altered the plot in an attempt to attract more readers (or so people believe).  In this new plot, the princess is sacrificed.  And yet, death is not exactly permanent, for the princess comes back to life whenever a new reader reads the story.

The king and queen have usurped the role of the Author, who represents God.  The characters wonder where the Author is, and if the Author even cares about the story anymore.  Meanwhile, there is political turmoil.  Creatures have been exiled from the kingdom, and the king is advised by owls who have their own interests at heart.  In the midst of this situation, the cynical Prince Kyran and Posy venture out to find the missing Princess Evanthe.

The Word Changers has Christian symbolism.  The Author represents God.  The topic of free will vs. determinism looms large in the book.  There is a purple mist, who is like a still, small voice, and who speaks to people (or creatures) when they are quiet and receptive to listening.  Love and forgiveness are also significant themes, as is personal growth.

The Word Changers does not tell readers everything.  We are given glimpses into how the king and queen became the villains that they are, but not the full story.  Overall, this did not detract from the book.  There was one place, however, where I was intrigued and wished that the book would elaborate.  The king and the queen are talking, and there seems to be a mutual assumption that sacrificing one of the characters actually accords with ancient written law (page 294).  This would make sense, from a Christian perspective, since Christianity emphasizes the sacrifice of Jesus.  The king and the queen were not just sacrificing a character to draw more readers, as some of the other characters believed, but they were somehow perverting the truth.  Part of me wishes that The Word Changers expanded on this; another part of me actually likes how The Word Changers handled it, since it preserves a sense of mystery—-it communicates that there are more layers to the story than meets the eye.

The Word Changers is engaging and inspiring, and it also has a sweet ending.  I recommend it to lovers of fantasy, especially those who enjoy fantasy that has Christian symbolism and lessons.

I received a complimentary copy of this book (as an e-book) from BookCrash, in exchange for an honest review.

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