Elissa’s Quest

Erica Verrillo, Author . Random $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-375-83946-7

A deep love of nature is evidenced in Verrillo’s pastoral fantasy debut, the first book in the Phoenix Rising trilogy. Thirteen-year-old orphan Elissa lives in the serene village of High Crossing, where she is an apprentice to the healer Nana. A gentle soul, Elissa can communicate with animals and has forged a deep connection with a donkey named Gertrude. Word comes of soldiers on the way from neighboring Castlemar; among them is a man named Lord Falk, who, it is revealed, is Elissa’s father. Falk takes Elissa with him when he departs; she learns that her father is planning to use her as collateral to secure the use of highly skilled soldiers from the vicious Khan. Khan’s purposes are much darker: as Elissa is the heir to the throne, Khan intends to secretly marry her, though her young age prevents him from doing so. She escapes, ending up with a group of healers who reveal the story behind the castle the Khan now inhabits. Falk’s naiveté in handing his daughter over to the Khan requires some suspension of disbelief, but that’s a minor complaint in an otherwise charming and elegant story. Elissa emerges as a thoroughly lovable heroine, her toughness growing over the course of the story but her peaceful nature and love of life remaining ever constant. Ages 9-12. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/25/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-375-83947-4
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-375-93946-4
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