Title: Quests of Shadowind: Sky Shifter (Book 1)
Author: L.A. Miller
Publication Date: 2013 (Revised Edition, originally published 2011)
Publisher: Millhouse Press
Number of pages: 230
Recommended age: 8+
Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
**Available as a 99 cent Kindle book **
Abducted…to an Alien World!
Logan and Mindy Oakes wake up to discover everything has changed. Wrong beds, wrong clothes, wrong house. And, worst of all, their parents are missing. When they go outside, they run into a friend whose parents are also gone. In fact, all the grownups in town have inexplicably vanished. Then along comes a spider a giant, monstrous, mechanical horror.
And that’s the least of the nightmares that will befall the brother and sister in Shadowind, a dangerous, otherworldly dimension inhabited by ghostly creatures, cyborg animals and virtual humans – – a land where anything is possible, including being downloaded into a cryptic, evil role-playing game.
In order to survive, Logan and Mindy band together with other kids determined to find a way back to the life they knew and loved. Ultimately they must battle the sinister cyber-lord for the Staff of the Sky Shifter, a powerful weapon that could destroy the universe…but might also be the key to getting back home.
My Thoughts: As I got sucked into this edge-of-your seat thriller, it became increasingly evident that, although we usually review books targeting children under the age of 13, this book is intended for an audience of 12+ years. And sure enough, when I flipped the book over and looked at the back cover, there it was: “Young Adult Science Fiction”. So, why am I reviewing it here? Well … because I thought it was FANTASTIC!
L.A. Miller has created a heart-pumping thriller that features a cross-over between science fiction and video gaming. Following a neighborhood block party 15 year old Logan and his 13 year old sister, Mindy, wake up to a parallel world where everything is different (i.e., their house and their clothes), all the grown-ups have vanished, and only some familiar peers are present. Then, the giant mechanical spider shows up! Then, they get sucked into a virtual world programmed into a computer. Then, the story really begins… Ooh, I just love it!
Quests of Shadowind: Sky Shifter assembles a memorable cast in characters in Logan and Mindy, as well as Kyle, the bully who plays a somewhat predictable role, and many other quirky and interesting characters found within the computer world such as Sergeant Leanne Pagel, Captain Aimery, Detective Danby, who are all a bit familiar. But of most interest are the hierarchy of shadowy creatures featured in the book such as silhouettes (aka, “sillies”), the Spirit Beast, Deep Shadows, and Dark Nights. All these created a suspenseful plot-line that kept me hooked.
The writing itself is very descriptive to the extent that I could visualize myself as one of the characters in the story. In some specific instances, I found the writing to be quite lyrical:
“In the distance, farther north and slightly to the east, a faint sound cut through the trees, carried on a breath of wind.”
I think there are two positive messages (outside of the importance of loyalty and courage) that I would like to highlight. First, the story featured a few poignant statements about the respect kids should have for their parents and for grown-ups in general. For example, when the children first wake up to their unfamiliar surroundings with no grown-ups in sight, Mindy reflects on how her parents are usually the ones who provide advice:
“She hated to admit it, but without Mom’s or Dad’s advice, solutions came slowly if at all.”
The second message centres around what transpires between Logan and Kyle (the bully). Kyle learns to be humble, to take responsibility for his actions, and to apologize for his wrong-doings. Logan extends an olive branch to Kyle despite the troubles he has caused, thus providing a model for forgiveness and the offering of a second chance. I thought the characters all demonstrated depth and the relationships among them were well developed.
My Bottom Line: Quests of Shadowind: Sky Shifter is a science fiction, edge-of-your seat thriller that will captivate you with its imaginary techno-world filled with spooks; its engaging and suspenseful plot driven by the race to find the powerful Staff of the Sky Shifter; and its endearing adolescent main characters who lead a brave and loyal group of children. Because there is some violence and some frightening concepts (e.g., the mechanical anibots, the various shadows), I would only recommend this book to kids 12 years and older who are into gaming and/or science fiction.
* This book was provided to us free-of-charge in exchange for our honest review.*
About the Author (Amazon)
L. A. Miller has been writing for more than forty years. His backgrounds in science fiction, astronomy, technology, and classic literature inform his work, which has included novels, short stories, and music. He is the owner of Wood n Nails Music and lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with his wife and two dogs.
For more information about L.A. Miller and his books please visit http://www.questsofshadowind.com/
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