Ryan O'Brien,
The Land of Whoo
(self-published, 2012)

In the tradition of The Chronicles of Narnia, a 12-year-old boy named Michael Henry starts dreaming he is the "Chosen One," and that he will be going to a different world to save it. He is adopted, and his father recently lost his job. This necessitated the family moving to a somewhat run-down house in a poorer neighborhood.

Michael Henry quickly makes friends with a girl named Savannah and, while exploring the small farm where Savannah lives, they find a magical portal to a different world. Michael Henry is quickly greeted as a long-expected savior. He discovers his heritage and ancestry, and begins the request of saving this world, the land of Whoo, from the evil villain, Master Uror, and his henchman, known only as the Evil Wizard.

Who is Michael Henry? Can he save the land of Whoo? What do dolphins have to do with it? Are there implications for Earth, related to saving the land of Whoo?

The premise is interesting, there is plenty of action and the pace is fast. However, all of the characters, including the protagonist, are flat. They don't ask any questions of themselves, they show little emotion, they don't challenge each other, and they just seem to go through the motions, without any thought behind anything. Everyone who is a "good guy" almost immediately likes the protagonist, for no apparent reason. They do exactly what he asks of them, without question. And everything he tries works just right. None of that seems realistic to me. The characters are not real people doing real things.

I understand that it is a fantasy world and that this is fiction, but the characters are still human beings, or are supposed to be.

If you like this premise, I recommend you read The Chronicles of Narnia or the little-known The Legends of Karac Tor by D. Barkley Briggs, starting with The Book of Names. The in-progress series by Briggs is an absolute gem, with beautiful prose and characters who seem like real people.

book review by
Chris McCallister

16 June 2012

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