“But”—she looked at Falak—“you said ‘dark fairy tale.’ What do you mean … ‘dark’?” “Oh, a story that is real, I suppose,” he answered carefully. “A story with tenacity, and strength. It has light that is bright, but shadows that are deep.” First things first: I received a free copy of The Word Changers in exchange for my honest review. The Word Changers is a fantastic, slightly allegorical tale by Ashlee Willis.
Posy’s home life is falling apart. Her parents fight nearly every day, and she senses divorce is on the horizon. One afternoon, anger and tears drive the fifteen year old girl to the library and a mysterious book. The next thing she knows, she’s been pulled into the story – literally. But everything is not as it seems in this Kingdom with its ever-cycling Plot and manipulative king and queen. The princess has fled, the prince is arrogant and aloof, and Posy has no idea who she can trust. With growing dread, Posy wonders if she might have fallen into a nightmare where it seems like she’ll be sacrificed for the sake of the twisted Plot. Will she escape with her life, or can she even escape at all? And who is the mysterious Author who keeps getting mentioned even though everyone seems deathly afraid of speaking of him?
Posy came across as shallow and childish at first, but as the story progresses, the reader feels her deep pain over her parents dissolving marriage (Ms. Willis did an excellent job conveying the tragedy of divorce), and her character deepens. She also reacts convincingly and often times more maturely than the average fifteen year old. What I love most about Posy is that while she’s sweet and gentle, she’s not totally prone to hysterics but she’s also not jumping right into the fight like a crazy warrior woman. The growth that she underwent over the course of this book was incredible – natural, smooth, and believable. She goes from girl trying only to get back home to girl seriously considering giving it all to save the Kingdom she barely knows but has come to love.
Kyran (the prince) is also a well-written character. However, his change from sneering and arrogant to kind and strong was the only thing about him that seemed a little rushed. His affection and concern for his lost sister is wonderful and realistic in light of my relationship with my own brothers. From the start, he was a complicated character, but he only got better and better as the story went on. He was real, likeable, and a man – he wasn’t an immature, sniveling eighteen year old boy.
The concept for The Word Changers is phenomenal and original, and it hooked me from the start. Ms. Willis also weaved in a gentle and sweet romance between her two main characters. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of the few kisses that they shared – mainly because of their age (she’s only fifteen and he’s about eighteen) – but I appreciated the innocence of their relationship and that they came to be friends first. Also, Ms. Willis had incredible descriptions; I felt, smelled, heard, and saw everything! Several times, the wording just took my breath away (i.e. – “The sun’s already meager spackling of light was diminishing to a gray haze that hovered and shivered around the trees, infusing the forest with a ghostly glow.” and “The full moon hung like a brilliant silver ornament in the sky, larger and brighter than any moon Posy had seen in her own world. It flooded the glade with a white light and flung deep shadows into the trees.” and “Dawn came tiptoeing quietly over the horizon, the colors of it spreading thinly through the trees. The light cut weakly through the drizzling mist that hung about the trees like ghostly garments.”). This book resonates with The Chronicles of Narnia in several ways, but what totally sold me on this book was that Ms. Willis makes the reader feel – and not just feel sorry for the characters; she makes the reader ache and laugh. Inevitably, Posy had to go home, and that hung in the air throughout the entire book. I couldn’t wait to see how it all came to fruition, but I dreaded coming to the end. Akin to Lucy and her siblings leaving Narnia, Posy’s departure was sad and filled with longing. But Ms. Willis tantalizes the reader with a kernel of hope in an ending that leaves just enough open possibilities to keep us thinking that the story might continue – just like several of the Narnia books. While the abrupt beginning was a little jarring, the great characters, an original idea, fantastic descriptions, and a wonderful writing style and skill made this book one to be read again and again. Therefore, I give The Word Changers four and a half satisfied, wistful stars and a PG rating. You can find it on Amazon and Goodreads.