Originally Posted at Bibliophile's Retreat by Melissa Meeks
This month's CFRB tour is a highly anticipated fantasy read. Based on recommendations from other reader/blogger/reviewers I respect I looked forward to receiving my preview copy in the mail.
Once I got my hands on this I found it started out rather slow but I've come to realize that is true in most fantasy novels due to the world building necessary to orient the reader in a foreign environment. While all that detail can be off putting or even relegate a book to the abandoned pile very quickly, I am very much into the small stuff and appreciate the effort good fantasy authors put into not only creating and enmeshing the reader in their worlds but the research and time required to make those worlds feasible even when they are far removed from anything we might consider real.
Now enough of my lollygagging about on minor stuff and on to the meat of the book. The story premise this author uses may sound old, tired and overused as you'd think in reading the synopses it is simply another Chronicles of Narnia type plot. I've got news for you here readers, yes Cara is thrust into an unfamiliar new world that runs on its own clock and expected to save it because she showed up at the right (wrong) time depending on your perspective on the matter but there is so much more to this good versus evil battle for the very existence of Narenta and to Cara's story as well.
We start out with Cara and her family enjoying a seaside holiday together with the typical accompaniments of sunburn and token souvenirs. Cara has discovered and acquired one such souvenir in the form of a necklace which resembles our shoreline avian residents here on earth yet if depicting a true species is not of our world. After donning her new treasure, Cara finds herself in not only an unfamiliar woodsy setting but surrounded by flora, fauna and colors that she cannot understand as anything but a dream though even that seems a far stretch for her mind. Very shortly she is informed that it is her duty to save these people and their world from a vague threat that has been building for some time and only an "outworlder" is able to do so. Cara is not only reluctant to take on this mission but apprehensive of her success and wants nothing more than to run the other way. Not only does Seabird tell us the back story of Narenta and its current predicament as well as Cara's outward journey to discover what must be done to redeem herself and this foreign world from destruction but she also faces a much deeper and far reaching internal journey of discovering faith in Alphesis (the God figure in Narenta) and faith in herself as well as her unique qualification for the mission she is presented.
Being one who, like Cara, avoids change and especially any change involving risk or danger to my own comfort and security I can easily relate to her choice to make a break for "home" instead of following the instructions for the next step in her alleged mission. Little does she know at the time that completing this mission is her only hope of returning to her own world once more and attempting to circumvent the responsibility thrust upon her will only delay this homecoming as well as place her in even more danger.
Will Cara realize her value not only to the Narentans but also that value intrinsic to who she is created to be? Can she discover a deeper faith in the ultimate power and knowledge of Alphesis (God) that also recognizes her own worth and place in His creation as a unique entity that nothing else can emulate? Cara's journeys are those we all face at times perhaps to a lesser degree in some cases but always evolving to push us outside the boxes we create both for ourselves and for God that can never contain even a fraction of who He truly is or what He can do in our lives if we embrace the possibilities for growth He desires to cultivate in us.