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News: If I could, I'd tie my hair up in dreds and live the life of adventure from the high seas to the mountain peaks, gathering gold and jewels and tales of mystery and action :) but for now, I'll just have to do with writing about these things as if they were truly real.

--12 December 2017 --

Quote: Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest of hearts. --Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The Fellowship

June 24, 2014

The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis - A Review

Greetings, Reader;


I'm listening to some lovely music right now (the soft, melodic type that you'd associate with candle-light, soft conversation, and fantastic far-away worlds). I've finally had a moment to put aside the bustle of life and write to you concerning a lovely tale by Ashlee Willis, titled The Word Changers.

I stumbled across this story when I saw a Facebook notification from Anne Elisabeth Stengl that explained how Ashlee was looking for pre-publication reviewers; I was blessed to receive a go-ahead from Ashlee regarding my inquiry into the matter. Over the last few days, I've spent my free moments reading The Word Changers. First let's take a look at the back-cover blurb, then I'll share my thoughts :) 



Her parent's marriage is falling apart. Fifteen-year-old Posy feels like 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.

The first thing about The Word Changers that caught my attention was its Narnia-esque qualities - and let me say, I am a huge fan of all things Narnia! In this story, Posy is magically drawn into a storybook world when she stumbles across a curious tome in her local library. We don't get to see much of Posy's daily life other than what she chooses to share in small asides - from Chapter 1 on out she's strictly within the tug-of-war battle between The Plot and The True Story.

The Characters
Posy & Prince Kyran were the main characters of this novel; they were joined by many other unique individuals as well, all of which added a vibrant tone to the various settings. Emotion and personality shone through both dialogue and prose; there were moments I found several of the characters a little shallow, but I believe this is easily forgiven by the reader in light of the unique story Ashlee spins.

The main characters deal with their own flaws throughout the tale; this provides a prime platform for the delivery of Ashlee's own moral beliefs to shine through - she discusses forgiveness, love, and mercy all within reason. I found her implied arguments well voiced and I believe they, hidden within the guise of the overall story, can provide excellent learning material for a young reader.

There was also plenty of variety aside from the human characters - centaurs, ipotanes, nymphs (mainly dryads, I believe), and owls. Perhaps this is why I found myself recalling the world of Narnia so often. My personal favourites were the owls, by far - especially this one little guy called Nocturne; I honestly wish he had a bigger role in the story because he was really quite adorable! Anyway, that's all I'll say on that matter :P

The Plot
The plot was great - I love good, solid Christian literature, even when it's entirely allegorical, which was the case with The Word Changers.

There was plenty of variety within the story, yet it clung to the underlying truth of the Author. This character is the God-figure of the story; he knows each character by name and (as implied by his name) has written the entire story. However, despite this, he only appears to the main characters when they have earnestly sought him (albeit unbeknownst to the characters), and he refuses to tell them how the story will end. Rather, he explains how he gives his characters a free will to write their own story, thereby providing his creations with a true and purpose-filled life.

The symbolism within the plot was delightful; the undertones of the conversations are riddled with double-meanings that speak to both the believing Christian and the eager young writer. Overall, I was impressed with the easy way Ashlee conveyed her faith in a unique setting.

The Dark Side
It is often every middle-aged Christian mother's fear that her children will inadvertently pick up a book that focuses all too entirely on the evil rather than the good, thereby subconsciously imparting dangerous knowledge to the youthful mind. I know this because my own mother falls into the category. In any case, I am pleased to assure you that the dark side of this book is even less dark than what we read of in C.S. Lewis' Narnia series. Yes, there are the 'bad guys', and yes, those bad guys are truly interested in bringing down the plot...but the story does not put its spotlight on them. They're present (sometimes terribly present) within the scenes, but I was happy to read that their evil manipulations only added to the realization of how powerful the good side truly was - even in the most dire circumstance.

The Romance
Then, of course, there is the beautiful romantic sub-plot between Posy and Prince Kyran - I had been forewarned of it when I read up about The Word Changers on Ashlee's blog; part of me felt a little hesitant, because many romantic sub-plots become overly cheesy and meaningless. I'm happy to say that's not the case in this tale - yes, there are moments of cheesiness (sometimes the endearing terms passed between characters felt a little off-kilter), but the meaning of their relationship delved deeper than a simple kiss. Within this sub-plot we see expressions of self-sacrifice, the rearrangement of priorities, and forgiveness.

I found myself rather attached to the secondary tale of the young couple; in fact, it was because of their relationship that I teared up at the end of the novel - I truly would love to explain why, but I'm afraid if I did I would ruin the story. So, you'll just have to buy the novel, read it, and find out for yourself :)

---

Overall, The Word Changers is a story of love, forgiveness, mercy, and faith. I would highly recommend this book to anyone - both young and old. It's a clean read and it's a beautiful tale that I believe will stick in the minds of young kids and teens. I give it 5/5 stars (an extra half star just because of Nocturne :P).

To learn more about Ashlee Willis, visit her blog: Finding the True Fairy Tale.
To buy The Word Changers, check it out over at Amazon.

Signed with edelweiss,

Squeaks.

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