By: Bethany Shehorn
Publication Date: February 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 2011
Liv Worthington is a happy child with a happy life. She has the love of a great mom and a Grandma who is more than a bit eccentric with her glass of scotch in one hand, wearing her feathered robe when she opens the door. In addition, Grandma always wears a strange key around her neck that supposedly opens a wooden chest that sits inside the remarkable home. Coming from Old Southern money, after Liv's grandfather died, Grandma moved to upstate New York to live in her huge two-story Victorian house that has as much charm and charisma as its' colorful owner. One of the most amazing rooms in the old house is a beautiful library, with sliding ladders, reading tables and chairs, and a huge fireplace where Liz could always get warm while losing herself in the world of books.
Every night Grandma would tell Liz a special fairytale - her favorite being an adventure her grandmother had when she was just a girl in a fantastical place called Lysterium. There, Liv's grandmother had a friend named Amara and they were chased by an evil Red Queen. She talked about the Book of Prophecy, and told Liv of faraway magical places. Liv loved this story, although her mom seemed a bit miffed when grandma told this imaginative tale.
As Liv grew up, she turned into a graceful, beautiful woman who found her niche and followed her dream, becoming the Assistant Managing Editor for a large newspaper in NYC. Liv now had her own Victorian-style apartment in the City and she was completely devoted to her job; her only love being her cat, Icarus. Liv still hurt from losing her mother years ago in a robbery attempt gone wrong, and had taken to staying by herself and only venturing out of the house for work and to visit her grandma who still lived upstate. One day, as Liv sits in the park and collects her thoughts before a business meeting, she spots an extraordinarily handsome man with a GQ face and platinum blond hair staring at her. Liv is "pulled" towards the peeping-tom who, when he makes eye contact with her, starts to run in the opposite direction, dropping a beautiful silver pocket watch behind him on the path. Trying with all her might to catch up to him, Liv finds out that his name is Wes and is told that she must go talk to her grandma Mona to find out some information. Only then can Wes explain to her who he is and what's about to commence.
Mona promised Liv's mother before she died that she would never reveal the truth to Liv; that she would allow her granddaughter to have a normal life. But once the pocket watch is found, and Wes and Liv connect, Mona has no choice but to explain to Liv that the fairytale she'd woven so long ago was actually...the truth. And that her mother did not die in an attempted robbery, but because of an ancient prophecy that's now coming true.
Soon the reader is transported to an amazing world called Lysterium, where they enter worlds that contain rivers of mermaids, and an alabaster swan with a castle perched on top. Bears wear top hats and picnic, while leopards in jeweled-collars frolic with children in a wonderful realm that is overseen by Wes and his parents. The truth is unleashed on Liv as she's told that Wes is actually her guardian and protector...not to mention predestined to be her true love. She is told of alchemists and introduced to dragons, and a Queen with cherry-red hair and no heart who has taken from Liv everything she has ever loved.
This fantastical story has aspects of the wonderful Potter, not to mention a little Alice In Wonderland and The Neverending Story thrown in for good measure. The author has done a spectacular job of writing something different, and her expressive dialogue and enchanting locations draw the reader in, making them wish the book was much bigger in size. Although the author has done great work putting this book together, additional scenes and expanded dialogue throughout would add "quantity" to the quality. While the story was wonderful, many scenes felt as if they are shortened - as if it were a screenplay for a movie instead of a book.
Quill Says: This is a wonderful start to a fantastical series that, with more pages, a bit of editorial help, and the right publisher, could become the next YA phenomenon!