“The Realm of Beasts” by Angela J. Ford

I find this book very much like its cover: a beautiful medley of images, but so unrelated that I cannot quite understand the logic that places them together. It is ostensibly the story of a character with gaps in his memory who is trying to learn both his past and his present in a new realm of magic. If the author wishes to make her readership experience the feelings involved she has certainly succeeded, because I never did feel completely comfortable with what was going on, nor could I always understand the motivations of the characters. Multiple points of view make it even harder to follow any single thematic thread.

Although this is Book 1 in the series, there is a great deal of backstory, all seeming important, but I’m not sure why. Then the story starts with a great deal of emphasis on something called Daygone, and once we have firmly fixed in our minds that it is important, it promptly disappears from the narrative, never explained, only mentioned to keep it in our thoughts. We never find out why. There is also a peripheral character named Triften who appears important at the beginning, but then only shows up periodically throughout the story. Then the last chapter comes from his point of view.

I take so much time explaining these impressions, not because they destroy the story, but because they cause a niggling uncertainty that keeps me from full enjoyment of the imaginative and rich world in which the tale unfolds. A myriad of creative magical creatures flows around the main characters as they pace through a wonderful, if hazy, land. Good and evil are intertwined in a reasonable philosophy on the balance of life. Somewhere in this book there is a good story, if I could just figure it out.

I am also at a disadvantage in reading an Advance Review Copy, so I’m not sure whether the numerous misused words are errors or intentional.

The first book in a series, which I believe spends too much time preparing us for the rest of the series, without enough concentration on making this book accessible to readers.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)


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