Avaland is an all-embracing fantasy that is so beautifully written that you are completely engrossed in a set of adventures in a magical realm. The storyline follows a well-adopted recipe made most famous by JK Rowling in Harry Potter. In Avaland, Charlotte is the unexpected teenager destined to play a major impact on the world and fight against a powerful spell that only she seems destined to break.
Charlotte is an orphan raised by a mother and father who discovered her beneath an old oak tree along with a crystal when she was 6 years old. She has grown up feeling that bit different and an outsider. Amy Croucher Rose does a great job of creating a protagonist that we can easily connect with and root for, being empathetic towards her vulnerabilities and soft demeanour. She casts her as the underdog with a powerful secret lurking and develops a character that is appealing, naïve, but somehow resourceful. There are a wonderful array of characters developed around Charlotte to add to the adventures, those that become friends, those that are protecting from a distance, and those that are searching for an opportunity to harm her.
When the time comes for Charlotte to be transported to Avaland she immediately connects with Mandy, a Blue Hag, and Frugal, a Hobgoblin. They travel to the Coliseum to study and train to become Guardians of Avaland. When they arrive at a large “Sorting Tree” called Arafolle they are all given a Talisman and Charlotte is declared “Quartz Clear” to the astonishment of those around her. On visiting the woman in the fountain she is given a diamond bracelet that winds around and embeds itself into her forearm. The Quartz Clear Talisman is the VIP of all talismans and is assigned only to those that are destined to change the course of history. Charlotte’s crystal is only one part of a greater gem that various members of the Quartz Clear group possess, plus a missing part.
In the magnificent Coliseum, there are species of all sorts including Werewolves, Shape-shifters, Cyclops and Vampires. Charlotte is introduced to those that will be part of her training team and to those within her talisman group. Oh no the Irish creature in the tall green hat didn’t just say “Top of the mornin’ to yer.” That aside, the cast of characters is extensive yet not overpowering and they all bring aspects to the story that add value and intrigue. As she develops friends and relationships there is always suspicion as to which side any friend may be on.
The trainees will go through hours and hours of physical and weapons training and then undertake a number of tasks in the Labyrinth that must be completed in order to progress. Each task is to find a large medallion and they will be given clues as to their whereabouts in the Labyrinth. These adventures are exciting, pacey and fraught with danger.
I don’t have an issue following a great recipe for a storyline, but this felt too much like Harry Potter. There were also the stereotypical connections and relationships that I wasn’t fussed on, such as the love interest. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fans, will love this book and it is really well written with loads of side interests and detail that creates a depth in the narrative that is totally entertaining.
I would like to thank Amy Croucher Rose for providing me with a copy of Avaland in return for an honest review.