Book Review: Journey to Aviad by Allison D. Reid
Title: Journey to Aviad
Author: Allison D. Reid
Genre: YA Fantasy
Amazon rating: 4.4 stars
Reviewer: David Wiley
Threatening clouds and fierce storms besiege the city of Tyroc. More frequent and powerful than ordinary storms, young Elowyn, a weaver’s daughter living in the outskirts of the city, senses something disturbing and unnatural about them. She soon realizes that the storms are but a warning sign of much more frightening things yet to come. Terrifying wolf-like creatures emerge from the depths of the wilderness at the bidding of a dark master. His name found only among the crumbling pages of ancient texts, the re-appearance of Alazoth and his Hounds is a dark omen for the people of Tyroc and beyond. Only legends remain of the heroes and prophets whose blood was shed ages ago to banish him into the abyss, which should have remained his prison for all time. How he has been released is a mystery, but all the old stories agree that death and destruction are sure to follow. With the Hounds inching closer each day, the city of Tyroc caught up in religious and political turmoil, and her home life no less turbulent, Elowyn has nothing left to rely on but her meager courage and a budding faith in Aviad, the Creator. She and her sister, Morganne, set out on a remarkable journey that challenges everything they have ever known about themselves, the world, and the path that Aviad has laid out for them.
The writing in this book is beautiful, elegant, and masterful. It was enchanting and kept me riveted to the tale. The story came alive as I was reading the words, filling my mind and my soul with the poetical prose laced with Christian themes. This is everything I have always sought for in a Christian fantasy book, and something I have rarely seen pulled off with such excellence.
The main character, a young girl name Elowyn, is one of the best young female protagonists that I have read in quite some time, and I thoroughly enjoyed following her on these early adventures in the book. She is at home among the beauty of nature, marveling at the hand of Aviad in shaping all of the things around her and blessing her with beautiful scenes. She has an awe and reverence that is both child-like and mature, something that places well with the Christian themes. Her inner struggles with not being worthy of being in Aviad’s presence is something we all, as Christians, can relate to.
The Christian themes were excellent and really enhanced the story. They were seeped into the heart and soul of the tale, rather than inserted to bludgeon upon a point or deliver a moral message. It is obvious that the author tried to use her talents to give the glory to God in her work, telling a version of His story through her own story. This masterful pairing is something rarely done well in fantasy and made me think of Lewis’ Narnia series as one of the few I could think of which successfully delivered upon that experience. There were scenes in the book that I could envision the set of Scriptures that had provided the source of inspiration, and my own spiritual self felt enriched from the experience.
With all of this deservedly glowing praise, the book still had a flaw or two that I do not doubt will be resolved in future installments in the series. The action within the book itself is minimal, with most of the danger taking place either outside of the walls of their house or being fended off by someone, or something, else while the girls were able to escape. Being the first book in a series, this is forgivable because much of the time is spent delving into character development and giving a vivid impression of the world around them.
Overall this was an outstanding read and an absolute steal because it is free. This one is good for all ages, Middle Grade on up, and I have a feeling that the sequel will be just as great and suitable. While having an understanding of the Christian faith will enhance your experience with parts of the story, it certainly is not a requirement to being able to read and enjoy the story. This is one that I will highly, highly recommend to everyone to read.