Jun 21, 2014

The Word Changers, by Ashlee Willis

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: 13+
Issues of Violence: fantasy violence
Intimacy Level: kissing
Language: none
Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Check out the giveaway author Ashlee Willis is hosting for this book until its release date!

Back Cover Blurb:
Her parents' marriage is falling apart. Fifteen-year-old Posy feels her life is falling apart with it. Retreating to an old library down the street, she selects a mysterious book in a secluded corner and is magically drawn into its story...

Posy finds herself in a kingdom ruled by a cruel and manipulative king and queen who have attempted to usurp the role that belongs only to the Author of their story. The princess has fled and the kingdom is teetering toward rebellion. Posy is joined by the Prince Kyran as they fight with the characters of the story against their slavery to the Plot.

Posy and the prince search beyond the borders of the story for the runaway princess. They visit mysterious places, face horrifying monsters, and fight fierce battles. They make both friends and enemies as their journey leads them into many dangers. But some of the worst dangers, Posy soon finds, lie deep within her own heart.

Now Posy must find the courage and forgiveness needed to save the story and, most important, heal the heartache she knew in her own world.

Initial Reaction: *****
The concept of The Word Changers was exquisite.

Some people fall in love with characters, or with the plot, but I'm grabbed first by the concept or world. Maybe I just didn't read the blurb thoroughly enough, or perhaps I just forgot it by the time the book arrived. Either way, I opened the book with a blank mind and no expectations. That's the perfect recipe for being blown away.

It starts in the thick of action: Posy is in a new world, she's the main character of an intimidating Plot, and she has to pretend she's the princess. Oh yeah, and she's supposed to act as the sister to a handsome, dashing, sword-wielding, war-ready hunk named Kyran.

Writing: *****
At first, the writing style struck me as geared toward a middle-grade reader. Then, as the plot progressed, it tightened the story to a YA/teen level. Sadly, I didn't have the luxury of reading this in one sitting, though I wanted to because it kept me surprised. Nearly everything I predicted turned out to be wrong, which kept the storyline intelligent and thought-out.

Characters: *****
I'll admit, I don't really like romance. I wouldn't call myself a cynic, I'm just a lot more picky about how romance is portrayed in books now that I've experienced it first hand and learned that most book versions are huge fakes.

However, I definitely got sucked into Kyran and Posy's relationship. Some other reviewers have said that Posy's age -- fifteen -- made the romance feel like a stretch, but I thought it fit exactly how a fifteen-year-old might think. She's at that stage where she wants to be an adult, she wants to be in love, and she's in a story where age doesn't mean much because everyone's been the same age forever thanks to the Plot.

The romance side of things was one area where Posy got to step forward and try to grow up. Not just that, but she also found herself in situations that forced her to grow up -- war, battles, choices that challenged wisdom, etc.

Kyran, while on occasion a little harsh toward Posy, dealt with his personal issues as I imagined a young conflicted prince would. His mixture of care and loathing for his father made him even more complex. I especially liked his tender treatment of Posy when he finally decided to accept her.

Both characters learn a great deal about maturing and addressing life issues with wisdom and faith.

Plot: *****
The Word Changers felt very Narnia-esque to me with a beautiful arc. Not sure what that means? An arc means the characters started out one way and ended up another after 328 pages of growth and trials. It also means the story progressed and moved toward the climax beautifully.

Spiritual Content: *****
The allegorical spiritual message came softly and the characters asked real questions about the Author. Everything about it had a natural, believable, and refreshing feel to it. I liked that the characters didn't get all the answers yet they still sought truth. Nothing was preachy.

The characters were challenged to think beyond what the world/king is telling them to do and believe. They are challenged to ask whether or not they believed in the Author and whether or not they wanted a relationship with Him. It was presented fully, completely, and in an engaging manner.

There really wasn't anything I would label as a con, there are only small aspects that I think could have been presented a little differently.

1. The start of the book really struck me as a middle-grade story, which isn't bad, but when I finished the book the early chapters just didn't seem to match the style or intensity in the rest of the book.

2. I would have liked to understand The Plot more. it was a fantastic ticking time bomb -- particularly the princess's role -- that only got partially answered. In order for the characters to escape The Plot, I needed to see more of the threat. Instead, it was a blurry fear that I had to trust was bad enough to warrant the war. The entire story was still delivered magnificently, but my personal preference would have been some more insight into The Plot -- why it had taken control of the King, the bad guys, and overall the world as they knew it.

Overall, this book was spectacular. I recommend it without a single reservation to anyone who likes fantasy. Sometimes it's an unkindness to compare an author to an author, but I pay it as the highest complement to Ashlee Willis when I say I place this book on the same shelf with The Chronicles of Narnia.

If you read the Narnia series and found yourself wanting more of it -- more of that feel and fantasy -- then The Word Changers is for you. I'll definitely be reading it again. (And crossing my fingers for a sequel!)

If you want to connect with the author, Ashlee Willis, you can find her here:

Her Blog
Barnes & Noble

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.