This author has the soul of a true storyteller!
I believe there are writers and there are storytellers. When you discover an author who is both, consider yourself one lucky reader.
Author Jessica Cantwell is a true storyteller. This first installment in her Realm series is a marvelous tale, one that not only takes the reader on an adventure, but celebrates taking chances. And that’s what captured my attention throughout The Adventures of Lily Monroe. (Link to the book on Amazon.) The risks taken not only by the main character (Lily), but also the willingness of the “supportive cast” around her to jump into the journey, no matter how frightening it might be.
This type of genre is not typically what I reach for – but early in the story I was hooked. In fact, I found myself picking it up as often as I could and finished the book quickly. I just had to know how Lily’s adventure would resolve. (And it did… and it didn’t! Luckily, there are two more books in the series.)
Cantwell elevates Realm’s fairytale landscape by developing her own set of mythological beings. We not only find a minotaur, dragons, and elves, but we’re introduced to magnificent aerosaurs and the absolutely terrifying chirachnophagous. (If like me you’re not a fan of swimming in nature’s lakes and seas, you might want to have someone hold your hand when you read the scene featuring these horrific terrors!) I was also delighted to see Cantwell run Lily and crew through some traditional paths on the hero’s journey, such as bringing them to face Scylla and Charybdis from Greek mythology.
Small note, but I want to call this out: As a reader, I love it when an author plays with words on the page in a clever way. Throughout the book you will see her love affair with words. Consider the language Cantwell uses when Lily is deciding on whether to cry or not: “I decided to let it go, just the one. I watch gravity rip it from my chin and pull it to the ground. As it detonates against the wood floor…” Can’t you just see that tear break free from Lily’s face and feel the sorrow it represents as it hits the floor? You will catch flashes like this throughout the book.
I’m curious to learn how the plotline of the family Lily “left behind” will play out now that she is in Realm. I do not want to leak any spoilers, but one mentally-fragile relative’s fate must certainly be changing, and I’m hoping to find out in book two of Realm – which I already have in hand!
So, hats off to author Jessica Cantwell!
I’d sit around your campfire and listen to your stories any day! And lovers of fantasy adventures? Pick up your copy of Realm: The Adventures of Lily Monroe. This is a quest you won’t be able to resist!