Return to Isle of the Shallows

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
332 Pages
Reviewed on 06/05/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Debra A. White is the author of four children's books and one book of fiction. She writes and paints at her home in Central Florida where she lives with her husband. Debra was born in Nassau, Bahamas where she lived until finishing high school. She graduated from Rider College (now University) with a Business Degree and worked in the business and education fields until she married and had two children. At that point, she decided to put her efforts into her family and, once the children began school, into their education. During this time, she converted into books four of the many children's bedtime stories she told her children at night and also made the commitment to complete her fantasy adventure novel, Return to Isle of the Shallows, which she began in 2003. Initially, she wanted to prove to herself that she could write a full-length novel. However, once she relayed the storyline to others, they convinced her to publish it.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Return to Isle of the Shallows is a fantasy novel for young adults and penned by author Debra A White. A coming of age tale like no other, this engaging story follows youngster Drew Barret as he combats a problem with anger management. Suspended and forced to move to a new school, Drew is a trouble magnet with, it seems, no future, but when a mythical beast kidnaps him and takes him to another world, he has no choice but to grow up very quickly. Facing real-world problems, destiny and the ways of Aqualor, Drew learns what it means to take control of himself amid fantastical creatures and places he could never have dreamed of.

What particularly struck me about the work that author Debra A White puts into her storytelling is the seamless way that social lessons and personal issues weave into the fantasy plot, with important teaching moments hidden in plain sight amid beasts and battles. Drew is an interesting central character, with obvious flaws and emotional issues that are not often discussed, particularly by leading male characters in fantasy novels, yet nothing about this novel feels like a lecture. It is very much an exciting and engaging fantasy tale, with atmospheric locations, action-packed peril, and amazing creatures and races to learn about and engage with. Overall, Return to Isle of the Shallows is a compelling and exciting novel for teen readers and above, but one which also leaves you with some thought-provoking questions and answers.

Lit Amri

In Return to Isle of the Shallows by Debra A. White, 14-year-old Drew Barret is a new student at Longwood Academy after he was suspended from his previous school for fighting. Bigger and stronger than most of his peers, Drew is not a bad kid but has a problem controlling his temper and is a magnet for bullies. One evening while walking home with his best friend Trev, Drew decides to jump into the lake nearby and investigate an object that Trev spotted. Shockingly, a mysterious creature drags him underwater. When Trev and Drew’s family attempt to rescue him, they find themselves in a hidden world where the Arvaks, Winged-Groshin, and Lamera long to find peace and freedom in their homeland from the one they called Chasqua.

With clean prose and a straightforward narrative, White's Return to Isle of the Shallows explores the themes of bullying, self-control, friendship, familial bonds, self-growth, and unity. The plot is more intricate than I expected, which was a nice surprise. The characters are well-developed and the tale caters to middle-grade readers who can relate to the young protagonists. Despite being in an eye-opening adventure, being chased by a scary beast and discovering hidden civilizations, Drew's biggest challenge is controlling his rage. I do have a soft spot for Trev, who seems better at calming Drew down compared to anyone else. Their time with the Arvaks is fascinating and there is enough suspense and action as the story unfolds. All in all, this is a solid fantasy that has strong moral themes for its targeted readers.

Liz Konkel

Return to Isle of the Shallows by Debra A. White is a coming of age tale about a family that stumbles their way into another world. All Drew did was defend his friend from a bully but one suspension later, he's starting his first day at a new school. While his little sister is living up the change, he's not so sure he wants to be here especially when another bully immediately sets his sights on Drew. Exploring with his best friend, they discover adventure they weren't expecting after he's snatched by an unseen monster in the water, which sends him and his family into another world where they find themselves in the middle of a long-standing feud. When Drew catches the attention of the dangerous Chasqua, he must rely on his family and new allies if he's going to discover his own strength and confront Chasqua.

Drew's faced with many struggles including issues with his temper, bullies, and fitting in at a new school. His adventures follow the same path as a hero's journey with coming of age aspects woven in which show him as a normal teenager facing normal teenager problems. Part of his journey is defined by the reality of growing up with the biggest focus on his anger and confronting bullies. He thought he was doing the right thing by defending his friend by fighting back, but instead, he received the full blame which resulted in him attending a new school. The adventures he faces tie back into his struggle with bullies as the situation with the Arvaks and the Lamera teach him better ways to resolve conflicts than with violence. His parents play a key role in this lesson as they work to set a good example for their kids and teach them how to problem solve and settle differences with other people.

Debra A. White includes little moments between the parents which shows the strength of their relationship and allows for you to see them as normal parents trying to do what's best for their kids. Though they're normal parents they're also extraordinary in how they step into this other world and immediately seek out ways to help everyone find a peaceful solution to their conflict. Various perspectives are explored in addition to Drew's, which include his parents, Trev, and his sister Alexia. Each of these different perspectives allows for a connection to form with readers and to see their take on handling the various conflicts. Return to Isle of the Shallows is an adventure perfect for all ages with lessons in conflict, bullies, family dynamics, and friendship.

Angelique Sabrina

This book was so exciting to read. Loved the adventure it took me on and I can’t wait to read more of her books!

Dante Ryan

An amazing read. I’ve always had a really hard time finishing books, but absolutely loved this one! The book really allowed me to step into Drew’s world, and what a world it was. To both young readers and adults, I highly suggest this book for you. Will certainly be reading again!

Tristan White

Such a good read for teens!

Alvin Burrows

Return to the Isle of Shallows by Debra A. White is a captivating fantasy adventure that will entice you with its vivid imagery and character depth. The story develops around a teenager, Drew Barret, struggling in adolescence to control his anger. While walking home from a basketball game his inquisitive nature pushed him to venture further out in the lake near his home than he should have leading to his abduction by the tyrant Chasqua and the beginning of our journey in Aqualor.

The author does a great job depicting the world created in the pages of the book. I was able to clearly picture the Arvarks, Lamera and Winged-Groshin shortly after their introductions as well as the land of Aqualor itself. While Drew is the focal point of the story I found that the other characters were well developed and quite relatable. I often sided with his best friend, Trev, and appreciated the banter and charm of his little sister, Alexia. Overall, Return to the Isle of Shallows is a well written coming of age tale that weaves together adventure, community and resilience into a masterfully told story. I would highly recommend for teen readers.


I really enjoyed this book. The descriptions of each character and where everything is set makes you feel like you are right next to them taking each step and making the same choices as the character. This story shows that family and friends have your back.

I would really recommend this to teens especially the ones who are having a hard time at school. This book will be an adventure.

Return to Isle of the Shallows is great

Return to Isle of the Shallows by Debra A. White is a fantastical and entertaining book with life and moral lessons for all woven seamlessly into the narrative, which puts me in the mind of the stories in the Royal Readers series taught in days gone by. Although by its storyline it is evidently aimed at the young and young adult, it is written in such a way that it holds the interest and attention of persons in any age group. The character development is such that in most of them you can say, "Oh yes. I know someone like that" be it one of the "good guys" or otherwise. The fantasy locale descriptions are vivid, beautiful and you can see yourself wanting to be there. In other words, you are personally drawn into the story. This is a book which should be in the list of "mandatory reading" for elementary, middle or high school students.

Tristan White

What an easy read! Also, the lessons taught would make this a great gift for students of any age!

Kathy Rives

I really enjoyed the book and how it dealt with bullying. Also how Drew's family tried to help the people in another world. It was a great fantasy adventure.

Brent Knowles

Return to The Isle of The Shallows was an amazing surprise! Author Debra White’s ability to bring her book’s characters and environments to life, from the real world to the magical unknown worlds portrayed throughout the book are amazing! Not to mention, the Story Line’s amazing connections to personal, family and social issues that everyone can relate to. Each chapter left me captivated and eager for the next.. Awesome read for all, Thank You!

Karen L. Nordsick

I don't normally read much let alone write a review! But, this book was recommended to me and I thought I'd see if it held my interest...YES!!! Return To Isle Of The Shallows by Debra A. White was so well written that I had a hard time putting it down! The book is targeted to the younger generation , but still great for all ages, and has seized on such life lessons , values and morals in such a way that any age is able to comprehend and thrive on.
Debra A. White has elaborated so well with her precise details in this book that I felt like I was literally in The Bahamas with Drew and his family! In fact, the one episode of Shark Week showed some of the Bahamian Island areas and I was able to recognize the areas as narrated in the book and I've never been there!
This detailed coming of age fantasy book is filled with action and adventure the whole way down its spine! Great read and highly recommended!