Diana S. Zimmerman,
The Calabiyau Chronicles #1: Kandide & the Secret of the Mists
(Noesis, 2008)

Princess Kandide is perfect. Young and beautiful, she has been raised with the knowledge that one day she will be queen of the fairy land of Calabiyau.

Unfortunatley for Kandide, that knowledge, coupled with her physical perfection, has made her callous, headstrong and proud. In Calabiyau, physical perfection is highly prized. Those who are not perfect, whether by injury or illness, are cast out of society to make their way as best they can. When Kandide becomes Imperfect only days before her coronation, she must deal not only with her pain, but her attitude toward the Imperfects among whom she now finds herself.

Kandide & the Secret of the Mists is the first book of The Calabiyau Chronicles, a new young-adult fantasy series. The book itself is very handsome, with heavy glossy pages and full-color character portraits. Also included are brief bios of some of the major characters, as well as a list of characters, places and vocabulary from all three books (perhaps a bit premature for a first book).

Unfortunately, all this glitz does not hide the book's flaws, which include dialogue that is awkward in some spots and sounds unnatural in others. One does not expect a fairy king, for instance, to speak like a teenager at the mall. The tale's moral -- that the different and disabled should have the same rights and treatment as the able-bodied -- is laid on in such a heavy, ham-handed fashion that even the target audience may roll their eyes and sigh.

Still, despite its flaws, the story is full of rousing adventure, romance, intrigue and magic. I predict it will be a great success with its intended readers -- those youngsters obsessed with Disney fairies and princesses -- but they will undoubtedly outgrow it just as quickly.

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review by
Laurie Thayer

23 August 2008

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