Annabelle

In the beginning

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
141 Pages
Reviewed on 06/16/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ronél Steyn for Readers' Favorite

Progress. Development. Advancement. It’s the forward movement toward an improved condition. At least, that’s how it should work. But what if this “progress” is causing the decline of everything natural? What if The Land is dying, choking from the dust of progress? What if this is humanity’s last hope? Annabelle by Russel Cornhill tells the story of when the Eldest, the oldest living tree in The Land, uses a 16-year-old girl to carry a message to The Company and The Ruler. On her journey, Annabelle encounters an array of colorful characters from humans to hybrids to machines. There is even an owl, an eagle, and a pumpkin. Will Annabelle be able to convince those at the top that the end is in sight?

After reading the author’s note regarding the Alice in Wonderland references, I was able to appreciate this story on another level. I was also able to grasp the satire dripping from the pages and was reminded very much of Terry Pratchett. The various personalities of the other characters certainly gave life to this story. The author has an easy-to-follow writing style which carried me through the pages at a leisurely pace. Perfectly suited for young adults as well as older readers, I feel this book is fundamental in life as we live it today. We have reached a point where teenagers are addressing the world leaders regarding the future of this planet. I think Annabelle by Russel Cornhill is a very important book with an extremely important lesson. There is just one hitch – we do not have the luxury of that last resort!

Jennie More

Annabelle by Russell Cornhill is a story set in the distant future about a 16-year-old girl who wants to save the environment and humanity from disaster. Robots take center stage and rule the world, partially collaborating with humans. The book starts with Annabelle’s protest in town to save a tree from being removed as she and her group tie themselves around it. They fail miserably, and in the name of progress, the police remove them from the tree to build another commercial development. Devastated by her defeat, Annabelle returns to her father in the forest, who, ironically, is a woodcutter. This is where she encounters the tree named Eldest, who has been hiding from her father. Eldest asks Annabelle to go to the city to speak to the Council and the Ruler to convince them that the land is dying. It didn’t take much to persuade Annabelle to save the world, and this is where her mission and adventures begin.

Annabelle by Russell Cornhill is a well-written story about the ultimate demise of earth and humanity. Set in the future, Cornhill gives readers a peek into the possible future that awaits humans if they continue on their current course of destruction of the world’s natural beauty. That world includes grey skies, the extinction of most animals, and the complete redundancy of humans because of their stupidity, yearning for short-term and immediate gratification, and wealth at the expense of a long-term and sustainable earth that can provide for everyone. The plot was creative and educational in a fantastical way with speaking doors, trees, and animals. The story left me contemplating what the future holds because there are traces of truth in the idea of robots becoming superior beings to humans. Cornhill managed to take a weighty topic and make it palatable, which I can imagine is difficult to achieve, and he did it splendidly.

Pikasho Deka

Annabelle is a young adult fantasy novel by Russell Cornhill. After chaining herself to a tree to stop it from being cut down, sixteen-year-old Annabelle finds herself in front of the oldest tree in The Land, Bruce the Eldest. Bruce tells Annabelle to relay a message to the ruler of humans, a hybrid, that the dust of progress was soon going to end all life in The Land. With Spot, an albino barn owl, and Ernie, a harpy eagle, Annabelle embarks on her journey to City Central, where The Council and the ruler decide the fate of The Land. Along the way, she must also recover a pumpkin from her mother's place, which may hold the key to humanity's salvation. Can Annabelle complete her quest? Or is the annihilation of life inevitable?

An adventure fantasy tale with a message that has never been more relevant, Annabelle is an engaging read for fantasy lovers and nature aficionados alike. Author Russell Cornhill seamlessly relays the underlying theme of the preservation of wildlife and how humans have increasingly ignored the warning signs in the name of progress, incorporating it into an immersive narrative filled with talking animals and trees and human-machine hybrids. The plot is completely unpredictable, with twists and turns you never see coming. Set in a dystopian world where the apocalypse is near because humans have driven most of the species to the brink of extinction, Annabelle serves as both a cautionary tale and a fascinating fantasy work. Recommended to young adult fantasy lovers.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

“Everything has a place.” That’s what Annabelle’s father always told her. Even the trees, but, sadly, the world is in a tailspin destined to total destruction and it’s all due to this anomaly known as progress. When Annabelle helps try to save one tree in her community from being cut down to make room for another shopping mall, the so-called Ruler, which really is a ruler in the mathematical sense and a technological thing at best, looks down upon her with disdain. She is, after all, only sixteen, and what ruler, or adult for that matter, listens to a teenager. She finds herself summoned to the deepest part of the forest by the Eldest, and she’s given a mission to convince this ruler that The Land, their home, is dying. Not only must she convince the Ruler, but she must also find a pumpkin, for within this vegetable are seeds that will help replenish the land. It’s something she must accomplish before it’s too late and before every living thing is dead.

Russell Cornhill’s young adult novel, Annabelle, is a mix of fantasy and dystopian doomsday, a fairy tale with dire warnings for all of us before it’s too late. The plot follows Annabelle as she’s lured into the forest and becomes a pawn of the Eldest, the oldest living tree in The Land. It’s almost an Alice in Wonderland fantasy, with voices speaking in her head and bizarre powers like the Ruler, who is really a ruler in the physical sense while also being the ruler of The Land. The conflict intensifies as the plot develops and Annabelle faces unfathomable obstacles in her quest to make the people (real people and technological hybrids) listen to her and heed her advice. The descriptive narrative is intense and helps set the scenes; character development is well defined, and dialogue is used effectively. This is a great read for young adults and an environmental warning to us all.

Alma Boucher

Annabelle and three others are chained around a tree in protest against the destruction of the tree for a shopping complex. She is the most passionate member of the group, but no one listens to a sixteen-year-old. She keeps hearing “We are all One” and asks Martha, the group leader, if she hears it too. After the policemen unchain them, a strange old woman passes her and hands her a pumpkin, telling her to take it home and look after it. The following day she decided to explore the forest and comes across a large valley filled with trees. She could hear the trees talking to her and was not afraid. The silence of the forest was calming, and it was a world at peace. She was the chosen one for the task at hand in Annabelle: In the Beginning by Russell Cornhill.

The plot in Annabelle by Russell Cornhill is Annabelle’s journey to The Company to tell them the land is dying. Trees are cut down and new trees are not planted fast enough to replace them. The story has more than enough action for a fantasy world and was fast-paced; there was not a moment when I wanted to put it down. I enjoyed the interaction between humans and the machines, even the pebbles in the path chatted. The characters were described and acted in such a way that they were almost human to me. The suspense had me on the edge of my seat, and I kept turning the pages. I had to know if Annabelle was going to succeed. The book is well written, and Cornhill has created a fantasy world where I could escape and be a part of it.