This YA fantasy leads us off from our own world and into another.
|Cover design by Christine Barber|
The Castle of Change: Legend of the Outsider is a YA fantasy written by T. Murphy.
So what's it about?
Will has had an absolutely boring summer, and is dying to have some sort of adventure to break the monotony. When he heads off through the family's church with his friend Dougie, he sees a blocked off passage, and recognizes his chance to do something different. Dragging Dougie with him, the boys wander through this passage until a sudden earthquake shakes the area, trapping them inside.
Working themselves free of the rubble, they finally manage to find a way back out... and into a whole new world. The boys are catapulted into a magical world with catlike inhabitants, and discover that as outsiders they hold the ability to shake the current structure of this strange new world.
I don't know about you, but I've always dreamed of finding a secret entrance into a fantastic new world.
And this one truly was unique.
Murphy created a world that felt very Wonderland-ish. A person could easily lose their way in a blink of an eye, because the entire environment changed at a rapid rate. Running down a busy street in the marketplace, somebody could suddenly find themselves in an area devoid of people entirely. Nothing in this world is as it seems.
The residents are ruled by a man that calls himself The Master. This man is loved by some, and hated by others, just as all rulers, but in his case, something is... off. Since he began his reign, the castle has been closed off to the public. Everything he does is shrouded in mystery.
And now he has his sights set on Will and Dougie.
All the boys want is to find their way home, but they're being hunted. You see, they are outsiders, and the population has been told that outsiders from another world will bring about change. Society, the very world, could collapse. Outsiders are not to be trusted under any circumstance. Rather, they should be gotten rid of.
Will wanted adventure, but not this kind of adventure.
As you can see, the storyline is very intriguing. The world details, mixed with the high stakes - get out before things get really ugly - make this something that produces high interest.
The theme, though, was what really caught my interest. It can be summed up quite simply: Live in the present, rather than dwelling on the future. Relax and really see what's happening around you. To do otherwise is to miss out on the great adventure called life.
We all know this.
The reality, though, is that while we understand it on an intellectual level, we tend to fall short on truly understanding what this means, and following through on it.
I speak from experience.
So the moral is quite important. It's something that we could all learn from. Indeed, many of the ways characters that interact with them use are methods you'd see in mindfulness training, or in meditation.
No, they don't have the boys take up the lotus position. Nothing like that. Rather, they constantly force them to see things as they are, rather than by judging or by viewing situations through their own past experiences.
That was pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, I had a few problems with this ebook that would keep me from giving it a stellar rating. The story was good, and the characters were enjoyable. However, grammar and style issues caused me to have to force my way through quite a bit of the story.
Spell Check was obviously used. There wasn't a single spelling error at any point. Unfortunately, it felt as though an organic readthrough never took place. I found issues with verb tense, proper forms of pronouns, and sentence structure.
I realize this makes me seem like a grammar fiend, but it made a huge difference. It increased the time it took me to read this wonderful story, many times having to reread a sentence in order to understand what was happening.
Paragraph length was another issue.
When paragraphs were properly broken up, I flew through the story, taking in every last word. But quite a few of those paragraphs were way too long. On a few occasions, paragraphs lasted a full page and a half on my ereader. While this may work out for an epic length adult novel - maybe - it doesn't work for a YA novel geared toward middle school readers.
I ended up skipping through a great deal whenever that occurred, which caused me to become frustrated with myself: What did I miss?
So while the story itself was absolutely well structured, and while I completely loved the world, I couldn't enjoy it nearly as much as I would have if an organic readthrough had been done.
But this author has talent. One round of proofreading would make this into something spectacular. It's currently free on both Nook and Smashwords, so I'd suggest downloading this work from one of them and waiting to see if the author updates it in the future.
The story structure is phenomenal. An organic readthrough would make this work amazing.
Castle of Change: Legend of the Outsider can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.