Talisman of El by Alecia Stone
Release Date: May 20, 2012
Charlie's life isn't what anyone would describe as good. Having lost his mother and then father, Charlie now lives with an adoptive dad who turns out to be a criminal. As his world spirals out of control, Charlie meets up with Alex and Richmond and together they go on a journey to discover Arcadia, a world that is like a heaven below the earth. A world in which Charlie may just belong.
Although slow to start, Alicia Stone paints a very vivid portrait of Arcadia that makes the reader wish it were real and not imagined. Deftly weaving in werewolves, angels, demons, Mothman, and the Garden of Eden, Stone's fantasy world made the journey fun and accessible. Not to mention the plot twist in the end that was both unexpected and brilliant.
I do wish a bit more thought had been put into the real world events or at least as much detail payed to our world as there was to Arcadia. Charlie is a good strong character, but I did find it unbelievable that a man like his adoptive dad who reveals himself to be a thief and a liar would just let Charlie go off and do whatever he liked without serious consequences. For example, when Charlie is gone half the night in the woods at the very beginning of the book, Jacob barely bats an eyelash which I found wholly unlikely.
The plot did get muddy at times, with the narrative breaking off suddenly and then the details being filled in later, but Stone had such a clear vision of her world that most readers will continue to wade through the muddle in the middle.
One last bit of criticism that is by no means the fault of the author; if this book should be published in the U.S., it will definitely need a language makeover. Range=oven, Draw=drawers, Toilet=bathroom, bunking off=skip school, etc. Although I usually understood what it meant though inference and I suspect most kids would too, it did bring me out of the story sometimes, which is something I don't think the author would want or any reader for that matter.