An effervescent middle-grade fantasy story about accepting oneself and others.
..Roberts’ debut novel adeptly conveys the language, frustrations, and spirit of a preteen girl with sensitivity and humor.
…Wonderland-worthy characters, including ninja fairies, Bebb the Butterfly Boy, and riddle-obsessed mountains…
..vibrant prose descriptions… everything clicks in a page-turning climax.
An often satisfying novel for young readers that hits most of the right notes.
Age at time of review - 11
Reviewer's Location - Naples, FL, United States
Fairalon is a delightful fantasy novel that will most likely appeal to preteen girls. The main character, Iris, is unhappy after losing both her mother and grandmother within a two year period. She has been having very strange things happen to her. When she shares these visions with her father, he thinks she is crazy and takes her to see a doctor. Iris ends up finding out that she is very special (not crazy) and her grandmother knew it all along! When her grandmother died, she left all of her possessions to Iris on the condition that Iris moves into her home. In this house many secrets are revealed that explain all the strange happenings and how very special Iris is!
I have to start by mentioning the illustrations in this book are quite unique! They appear animated and are super colorful. I only read a digital copy of this book, so they are probably even more stunning on the printed page! The story caught my attention right away. I read almost 100 pages in the first sitting! I enjoyed seeing Iris change from a depressed girl with very low self-esteem to a confident hero! T.J. Roberts did an excellent job building her character and painting a descriptive scene of Fairalon, which is sure to make every reader wish they could visit this magical place!
Eleven-year-old Iris already has strikes against her: she's the new kid in town, and her quirky behaviors involve repetitive rituals and actions that have, in the past, been labeled an illness.
Now she knows they're something more: they are instinctive reactions to her strange and evolving abilities, and they hold the power to alert her of future disasters. That's why she was able to save a young girl from a peculiar car accident, and why she sees things others don't.
The first thing to note about this captivating fantasy is that it's liberally peppered with full-color (and well-done) illustrations that enhance its story line. From autos in the woods to strange mischievous beings, Fairalon is packed with visual interludes that enhance the story without taking it over completely. Middle-grade readers will thus appreciate the enhancements which create visual interest in Iris's adventures.
The second notable feature of Fairalon is an attention to supplementing a fantasy adventure feel with the realistic saga of a young girl's evolving perceptions of her powers, her world, and whom she can trust. Fueled by strong psychological insights and solid character development, it's a story young readers will empathize with as they read about Iris's unusual challenges.
Fairalon excels in a steady plot that offers several twists and turns and much insight on not just the origins of inherited traits, but choices in how power is wielded.
Middle school fantasy fans will be enthralled as Iris' world expands in unanticipated directions. It should be mentioned that its conclusion paves the way for more books, yet completes her story in a manner that is satisfying and exact, making for a fine introduction to what might become a series. An exciting blend of adventure, psychological insight, and beautiful illustrations make Fairalon a prime pick in its genre.
Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Reviewed By Jack Magnus
Fairalon is a fantasy novel for children and preteens written and illustrated by T.J. Roberts. Iris is tired of being picked on in school for being different. She doesn't want to be like the rest of the kids; she simply wants them to leave her alone. Ever since her mom died when she was six, Iris finds it necessary to do things, like tapping her legs and repeating actions three times to make sure she does it right. She still doesn't know, you see, if she had done something wrong to make her mother die. Now, her grandmother has died as well, making it even harder for the eleven-year-old to cope. At the funeral, the hair on her arms stood straight up, as it did whenever something strange was going to happen, and it almost seemed as though, at one point, her grandmother had raised her head and spoken to her. Most people dismiss Iris as being mental because she's on medication, but they're just not seeing what she sees. Gram left her house to Iris in her will, on condition that she live there. She also left five wooden boxes in her bedroom which is now Iris's, and there was also a note attached.
T.J. Roberts' fantasy novel for children and preteens, Fairalon, is an original and exciting epic fantasy. Roberts' 3-D illustrations are superb, and they work perfectly with the story to bring the characters and the marvelous world of Fairalon to life. Iris is a complex and engaging character whose comfort with herself, courage and curiosity are perfect attributes for a questing hero, and she takes on that role with aplomb. I enjoyed watching her spar with the Koan and negotiate with the goblins as she sought a way to help Charles escape their clutches. Fairalon is well written and the plot is full of action, close calls, and the friendship of stalwart companions. It's a lot of fun, and it's highly recommended.
Your illustrations are superb!