It takes a particular sort of literary courage to not only begin a fantasy novel, but to begin it with four different viewpoints. Reading The Land of the Wand is much like reading a synopsis of several stories all at once. Deborah Elizabeth Hill and Sandra Brandenburg seem to have taken a pile of stories, books, myths and legends, and seamlessly melded them all into one conclusive tale. Easily recognizable are concepts from the Bible. Other ideas are vaguely related to books by Jennifer Roberson and Shakespeare, while others still are reminiscent of My Little Pony. All of this aside, the story grabs readers gently with both hands and doesnít let go until it has spoken its piece.
The Daemonas and Angeles populate the land that four seemingly random people fall into, all having felt drawn to a wand in a gift shop in an American mall. Upon touching it, they are swiftly transported to an alternate reality. It is Earth, but on a parallel plane of existence. They have inadvertently stepped into a world that is upside down from what they have known. Symbols of Christianity date back to the Middle Ages. Our four have determined that someone must have fallen into that world previously and stayed only long enough to see the beauty of the Angeles and to compare it to the not-so-beautiful Daemonas - thus promoting the symbolic religious mythos of the Angels and the Demons, based upon misguided assumptions.
The traveler got it backwards. Although beautiful, the Angeles are a vicious, bloodthirsty race whose only goal appears to be the complete destruction of the Daemones. The Angeles are blindingly beautiful, most with white blond hair, luminous blue or violet eyes, wings, and language through glorious singing. The Daemonas, on the other hand, are a peaceful, mellow people, fun-loving and nurturing. The feet that they walk on are not feet at all but hooves. The quartet of today has long been prophesied to be the saviors of the Daemones - and four less likely heroes there have obviously never been.
This is the story of an enmity that spans thousands of years. The first battle we are privy to offers few gory details, focusing instead on the characters we are getting to know. Allowing us a view into the minds, rather than highlighting the gore of the war, is a brilliant move. The end of that skirmish gives a much clearer view of the people as individuals, a definite sense of their purpose and emotions. They become more real in that bit, rather than being simply names on the pages.
Aside from that, the shallow character development is surprising. The tale is one of a string of events - with little in between - and many, many names, some of them conventional, some very unusual or taken from various mythologies. Typically, readers expect to be drawn into a story because they care for the people in a book. Not so, in this case. The authors pique interest simply by drawing a very engaging, evolving plotline. In the last couple of chapters, they belatedly try to give the four mains a little personal depth through unexpected complications and predicaments. While it does do that, to a point, it also serves the dual purpose of illustrating how much each of the four has changed in the Land of the Wand.
This isn't meant to be a young adult novel, based on the rampant use of colorful language and the sexual content. It isnít explicit, but it does openly explore the sexual feelings of the different races as they come into contact. It does, however, read somewhat like teen fiction. The general tone screams youth, but the subject matter defies that. All authors, myself included, have to grow up as a writer. This is a fourth novel by
Debora ElizaBeth Hill and a first for Sandra Brandenburg, so perhaps they haven't fully developed yet.
Given that this volume is actually book one in the Lost Myths Saga, it is pleasantly surprising to find that the end is satisfying. It alludes heavily to further adventures, but all wraps up nicely. It left me wondering what might come next, but I was content to close this book. All in all, the book has a soft tone and focuses more on the story to carry things; the characters are like paper cutouts being moved through scenes. I neither especially liked nor entirely disliked this book. If it falls into my lap, Iíll read the next, but I wonít go out of my way to find it.