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Monday, January 7, 2013

Reviewer Calls Novel Universally Appealing

Deception Peak
By Dianne Lynn Gardner
Author's Web site:
Genre: MG/YA adventure fantasy
ISBN: 978-0615679709

Reviewed by Daniel Cann originally for The Independent Review UK

Dianne Lynn Gardner has written a ‘rites-of-passage’ YA fantasy novel with Deception Peak. This is a ripping yarn in the tradition of all heroic quest tales. We have an unlikely (and initially) unwilling hero, a father-son relationship, and a vivid, exciting new world to explore.
The synopsis of this universally appealing adventure is:

“The first book of a trilogy, Deception Peak is a young adult adventure fantasy about a teenager, Ian Wilson, who follows his father through a portal that magically appears on their computer screen. They travel into a deceptively beautiful Realm, where horses run free, the wind sings prophetic melodies, and their computer avatars come to life.

But when the two are separated, Ian is abducted by a tribe of dragon worshippers and is forced to find his courage. As he struggles for his freedom and embarks on a perilous search to find his father, Ian meets the true peacekeepers of the Realm. It's then that he learns there is a greater purpose for being there.”

What I liked about this were the characters of Ian and Alex Wilson. Ian is a young lad who is a bit of a daydreamer and an aspiring artist. There is nothing particularly remarkable about him, and he therefore has an ‘everyman’ quality about him which readers of all ages will find easy in relating to.

His father, Alex, is a different proposition: recently widowed, he is struggling to come to terms with the loss of his beloved wife and the pressures of being a single parent.

Technically gifted and practical, Alex hunts, fishes and works at a foundry. He is also an adept computer game programmer and designer. He is currently obsessed with a new game he has created and is in danger of literally losing himself in this new cyber world.

The theme of fathers and sons has been explored before, but Gardner has created a believable relationship and skilfully weaves it into her plot.

The dangers of finding solace in gaming and a fantasy world are very real twenty first century concerns which are adeptly explored here. Unfortunately, for out two protagonists, this world is a little too immersive!

I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes with horse riding, exploration and adventure in a new landscape. This world’s features include: plains, prairies, woodland, wilderness, mountains, wild boar, wolves, pumas and dragons!

Whilst Alex is in his element in this new world, poor Ian is completely out of his comfort zone. The ‘fish out of water’ adverb is very apt for his situation. He would much rather be at home in the company of his school friend Abbi and enjoying his creature comforts.

Here he finds himself tested against the elements and suffering the hardships of this organic and challenging world. He goes through the mill in his quest to be reunited with his father. Ian is a long way from his native Seattle!

Gardner’s prose is very descriptive: the sights, sounds and smells of the Realm are brought vividly to life; it was easy to picture it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a reluctant hero finding resolve and reserves of courage in testing circumstances. The value of friends and family, being able to survive in hostile surroundings, becoming self-reliant, are all excellent themes for children to learn.

It is also important to note that with a title like Deception Peak you should expect plenty of mind games, trickery, and sorcery! This one is a winner; look out for the sequel soon.

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DLGardner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DLGardner said...

Thank you so much for the shout out! Will be sending folks your way!

Anonymous said...

I've read Deception Peak and enjoyed it as much as Daniel Cann. I was especially impressed by how real Dianne Gardner made the realm and how she intertwined it's beauty with deception. I can hardly wait for the sequel. Pat

Anonymous said...

I'm reading Deception Peak now and love Dianne's writing!. Thanks for hosting her on your blog.

DLGardner said...

Thank you!