The hill behind our elementary school was undeveloped. At the base of the hill was a large California pepper tree (which looks similar to a weeping willow – for those of you who have never seen one). The majority of the hill was covered with sparse vegetation and it had a path that led to somewhere unknown. My friend Carrie and I had both read all fourteen of L. Frank Baum’s Oz stories. I don’t recall the name of the specific book, but one of them has a character entering Oz from a desert road. Carrie got the idea that maybe if we were to follow the path up that hill, we would find Oz ourselves!
Sadly, that particular road didn’t lead us to the Emerald City. But we did have some fun adventures along the way. . .
by J. Rodes, Jennifer Rodewald
Published by Rooted Publishing
Publication Date October 25, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Christian Fiction, Action/Adventure, Young Adult
Setting: Oz Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 15-18
Written for: High-School/Young Adult, Middle-School, Adults
Abrielle used to dream of a different life. Adventure. Romance. Hope.
Not of Kansas.
Now, after the loss of her mother and a move she didn’t want to make, she’s lost the will to dream anymore, let alone believe in her father’s Somedays.
But a swirling wind, a wall of leaves, and a blinding darkness literally transform her world.
She and both of her brothers, Brogan and Matteaus, are swept from Kansas to someplace beyond—to a desert in which everything is watery-brown, including the sky and the light of the weak sun. Abrielle finds herself in the middle of a realm everyone had heard of but no one believed existed. Except this version is rundown and broken, void of color and hope. Not much different from her view of life in Kansas.
When she gathers her bearings, she discovers her youngest brother is missing, lost in a land that is foreign and dying. Finding Matteaus becomes her sole focus, but when she and Brogan meet a boy named Levi, who only adds more mystery to this world that shouldn’t exist, she finds out this kingdom is much more perilous than the children’s book ever told.
Matteaus is in great danger.
There is nothing safe about Oz.
I would like to thank Jennifer Rodewald for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
“Trust me” Levi encouraged Abrielle, again and again. And though she continued to try, doubts would creep in. She’d trust him for a little while and then something would happen. She was probably wise for that, after all, he was a total stranger to her.
I loved the way that Abrielle was such a normal girl. She didn’t feel particularly brave. She didn’t have any idea how to fight. And, like me, she had a terrible fear of heights. All of which combined to make her very relatable. She discovered the strength that comes from necessity and the courage that comes from love.
As Abrielle and her twin brother, Brogan (oh how I loved him!) searched for their younger brother, they learned a lot about the importance of hope and faith. And to not rely on what they could see.
Emerald Illusion was an interesting blend of The Wizard of Oz (actually containing bits of several of the Oz stories) and the Chronicles of Narnia. While the events took place in Oz, the spiritual aspect made it seem much more like C.S. Lewis’ works, though that could be simply because I have read those stories about a million times and have only read the complete set of the Oz stories a few times each. But don’t think this means you are going to feel like this is a re-hash of the familiar works. The author used the place and some of the details but made the story her own.
The spiritual aspect of this tale is wonderful! Not many fantasy authors have the ability to translate the truths we know from the Bible into an imaginary world and have it work well, yet that is exactly what was done here. Dealing with issues such as the despair and divisiveness that can come from a lack of hope, learning to trust in what you cannot see, and not giving in to the glittery allure of the world.