I first "met" Sherry through the Lost Genre Guild, so I knew her before I read the book. Her vitality, exuberance, and wit came through in her posts with the group, so before long I wanted to read the novel she attached to her signature.
If you have read even a couple of my blogs, you know I am partial to fantasies, particularly any with a Christian world view. Tolkien is on the top pedestal with C. S. Lewis very close by. In my own mind, I doubt if any other book will every replace either one of them, so if I compare another book to their work, it just means that tale is in the same vein or has some similarities. These are the standards. Having said that, I have to say that Seabird contains those elements that a good fantasy story--one that follows in the traditions set by Tolkien and Lewis--contains.
The elements that I speak of go far beyond the ones that my little brain will conjure up right now, of course.
The fight between good and evil is essential for this type of fantasy. Seabird has that conflict in abundance. Cara is pulled into the world of Narenta because of a need for the Good. Speaking of that pull, the Call is often an important part of a fantasy written from a Christian worldview. And that call goes out to someone that no one suspects is destined to do great things. Cara is not an obvious choice for a champion any more than David the shepherd. Yet the forces of Good in Narenta are all certain that she was called to help them in their hour of need.
As with Narnia and Middle Earth, there are various "people" besides the humans. Cara meets several "people" groups who are more or less on the side of Good, the most important being the
people of Alphesis, Seabirds who are the scholars and wisest of all Narentans. Yes, talking birds. This may sound like a rip off from Narnia, but it really isn't. On the Evil side,there are some really nasty werewrights ( I think it's a kind of reptilian thing if I understand correctly) and the daemagos--these are like evil sorcerers who can do incredibly ugly stuff, powered by supernatural evil.
Then there is the quest and the journey. Cara is the Outworlder called to help Narenta, but many others are involved along the way. There is a part in this quest that only Cara can play, but without the help of many who are committed to Alphesis, she would never live to complete the task. Unfortunately, some of her noble friends don't.
Beyond the actual story, I think I am drawn by the values that it upholds. That's another element in fantasies of this ilk, perhaps the most important for some of us. There is a higher power that the Good people of the land follow. Many people have compromised their values, giving in to temptations, selfishness, and the influences of the Evil forces. Those who remain true, however, will even die for their cause. Values like love, honesty, loyalty, faith, kindness, mercy, courage are all upheld. Cara herself doesn't possess most of them, but she learns from her experiences and from her comrades. Hopefully, readers will also learn and take note.
I thoroughly enjoyed Seabird, and I believe those who enjoy fantasies, young adult or old, will also enjoy it. There are certainly some creepy parts and battle scenes, but it isn't really gory. It isn't so much a happily-ever-after book, yet the ending should satisfy the reader. There is, however, room for sequels to finish the tale even though one segment does actually end with this novel.
I will be giving away a copy of Seabird next Monday (Jan. 11). To get in this drawing, leave a comment on one of my Seabird posts or one of those posted by other CFRB bloggers. Please leave an email address in your comment, though, so that I can reach you.