Orpheus Rising

By Sam And His Father, John/With Some Help From A Very Wise Elephant/Who Likes To Dance

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
310 Pages
Reviewed on 07/23/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

If you love to read epic fantasy adventure stories, grab yourself a copy of Lance Lee's Orpheus Rising. Ten-year-old Sam lives a humdrum life alongside his father, John. Feeling isolated and lonely, Sam and John start having nightmares where they share the same scenario. After the newspaper delivery man, Mr. Nicholas, hands over a mysterious book to John, Sam discovers that whatever he draws or writes in the book comes true. When a dancing elephant in an Edwardian suit comes to life, Sam and John realize that they live in Sam's imagination. Sam names the elephant Lepanto, and the three of them undertake an epic quest to rescue Sam's mother, Madelyn, from Dread City while traversing a Far Land of Fear. But they must brave an Upside-Down ocean, a Sea of Faces, a riddle-loving snake, and much more.

Author Lance Lee's whimsical fantasy adventure tale blurs the line between imagination and reality, enchanting you through a wide range of emotions. Orpheus Rising fills you with a sense of wonder and awe, deftly showcasing the importance of believing in your dreams and pushing yourself to attain them. The contrast between Sam's and John's personalities makes for an interesting dynamic. While John, at times, seems to succumb to the struggles of their journey, Sam continues to carve himself a path out of sheer will and vivid imagination. The illustrations by Ellen Raquel LeBow provide an added visual aesthetic to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed Orpheus Rising, and I highly recommend it to young adults.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Life is a journey. No one understands this better than ten-year-old (almost eleven) Sam and his father, John. They are destined for a journey of widely imaginative proportions as the two set off to rescue Sam’s mother, Madelyn, from “Far Land of Fear” and “Dread City.” Could this journey take them to the afterlife, a dangerous, fearful world where only those who have died can venture and never return? Written for the adventurous and imaginative reader of all ages, Lance Lee’s Orpheus Rising is a legend, a mythological adventure set in the modern world. In Greek mythology, Orpheus mourns the tragic death of his wife, Eurydice. In his grief, he ventures into Hades (hell) to reclaim her. Taking this theme and plot into a modern setting, the author has expertly woven a tale of grief leading to fantastical adventures that parallel the original Orpheus legend. Sam and his father, John, are grief-stricken over the loss of Sam’s mother and they can barely function without her. Following dreams (that they both share), a mysterious and magical book, and the overpowering desire to restore Sam’s mother to their lives, the father-son duo go on almost unbelievable adventures, not so different from other classics like Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Using interesting number associations, like the ever-powerful number three, incorporating complex, multidimensional words like ubiquitous, and the constant reference to time (perhaps like the number three this is a biblical reference that stipulates there is a time (season) for everything), this book reads like a classical era legend, a myth of many proportions. It’s also something like the complex card game of poker; each plays an educated move with multiple strategic elements. And, then there’s the Book – the mysterious book that arrives in the mail and ultimately leads them on unfathomable adventures, good and bad, until they find the ultimate treasure: Sam’s mother. The Book, another biblical reference to the Book that leads readers on adventures that are both good and bad? Ultimately, the story and plot, driven by one specific goal, are powered by love. Lance Lee’s Orpheus Rising is a compassionate and fascinating tale of mythological proportions.