Turnik and the Lost Woman by Jonas Lau
“In Zymaria, a land now ruled by a malicious sage, there is a small town still untouched by the evils. Turik, a twelve year old boy abandoned by his parents, resides with his Grandpa. Turik and his grandpa live a simple existence, farming a small plot of land until Turik is old enough to be taught the only trade his grandpa knows: hunting. When Turik finds an egg following his first hunting trip, its hatching provides Turik with a trusted friend and a world of trouble. When the dragon he befriends is discovered, they are sent on a long journey. Turik becomes haunted by a woman in his dreams. He feels drawn to this woman as he begins to wonder if she is the key to his success. Turik will have to choose whether to put his quest on hold to find the lost woman, or continue without her. Will Turik like what he learns along the way and will he become the leader Zymaria needs?” – From Amazon
Story – Very Good
Mister Lau has delivered a classic story, the coming of age of a young man. While this is certainly a tried and tested narrative in the fantasy genre, Mister Lau gives it new life with his vivid world and developed characters. Perhaps the only portion of the story that falls a bit flat is not in the story at all, but the world creation myth presented at the beginning of the novel. There are parts of the myth that could have been better executed, and since it is not part of the story, we do not believe we are spoiling anything by pointing it out. Draco, an unkind god, to say the least, gives the races feelings that they did not have before, and in doing this, he changes the way that they experience the world around them. Before they felt, they lived in harmony, but after his meddling, they do not. This is a little cliché, as it is quite biblical at times, but he hints that the races realize, after being given feelings, that they were not built for the conditions in which they lived. This seems an unreasonable jump, as when created by their ‘mother’ they did not appear to have been made with any of these conditions in mind, but Draco did not change the physical features of the races, so it feels incomplete, or just not well thought out. As lovers of fantasy, we find creation myths to be fascinating, and when well-executed, they can help build the world like little else, unfortunately, this myth detracts from the story for us, ever so slightly, and the experience could have been enhanced had facts about the world been better integrated into the body of the work instead of dumped into the prologue.
It appears like a long gripe, but while it bothered us, it did not keep us from finishing the book and loving the story.
“Turik sat in bed trying hard to slow his breathing. The sleeve of his shirt wiped away the mucus and tears streaming down his face. His chest eventually heaved less often, and he was able to leave the comfort of his warm bed. A breeze hit Turik as he went from his room into the common room. Winter was almost there, and the chill found its way easily through the cracks in the old house.”
Writing and Formatting – Elementary
To be fair, this book is intended for a young audience. Of course, Mister Lau seems to mistake how young that audience actually is. Recommended for ages 12-18, we think that few twelve-year-olds would be adequately challenged by the prose, which is at best, repetitive and uninspiring. It feels more appropriate for a 9-12 year range; the simple language holds back what is otherwise a compelling narrative. The formatting and editing are excellent; we think the author has simply errored in believing children to be less literate than they actually are. At the same time, the story he has presented would likely only appeal to those in the upper end of that range, which leaves it sitting in an awkward place when trying to decide the target audience for the work, which ends up confusing. In the end, a thesaurus could have helped Mister Lau out immensely.
“Thunder crashed through the air but the falling of the rain was more than enough to cover the soft beating of Lavara’s massive wings. She could easily outrun these creatures, which appeared but mere bugs on the ground.”
Literary Value – Lacking
Indeed, the simple language boils over to here as well, and with the prose being subpar, all we had left to look at were the central themes of the novel, of which little feels explored. This is common in novels targeted toward a younger audience, but we could not help and feel some stronger messaging could improve the work as a whole.
“Turik nodded but didn’t turn around as he followed the path toward the eastern village. Trees all around him were completely void of leaves. The only color came from a couple of conifers and some grasses that, instead of dying, had turned a fiery color.
The wind off the ocean passed easily through the brown landscape. Gray clouds released a misting of water which added to the chill. Turik spread his energy as warmth throughout his body.”
Overall – 3.5, Recommended for Young Readers
This is recommended for young fantasy readers, but few others. The banality of the prose left too much to be desired, and no amount of character building or story could make up for the deficit. Mister Lau understands how to write a story, but the target audience for this work feels too narrow, if there is even a true audience at all. It was not quite middle grade but did not feel quite young adult either, sitting in some limbo between the two, where it simply would not be enjoyable for the average reader. That being said, there is promise here for those who can look past the shortcomings, and we hope to see more from Mister Lau in the future.
Do you want to read Turik and the Lost Woman? You can find it on Amazon.