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Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite
Seven Beyond by Stella Atrium is a fantasy lover’s fantasy. The world of Seven Beyond is so detailed and vivid that the reader can truly escape to another plane. Seven Beyond will tolerate any degree of scrutiny, giving back just as much as the reader wishes to put in. Here you will find ample fodder for linguistics study, model building, costume play, gaming (Tsing Tse, the glass bead game) or an annual convention - this work reveals itself in layers and will continue to reveal itself as long as one keeps reading and re-reading. Seven Beyond has a distinctly medieval (specifically, Chaucerian) feel, with one delightful ‘tweak’: the story is peppered with references to things modern - travel on the Concorde, the New York fashion industry, and contemporary TV personalities, to name a few. It is as if the world of Seven Beyond is evolving around us - next to us - as opposed to being removed by time or distance.
The plot of Seven Beyond spans generations, worlds, and ideologies and is therefore far too intricate to fully convey in a brief review. Taken on the most simplistic level, it is a quest novel; in broader terms, it is a sociological cautionary tale with many tongue-in cheek references to the vagaries and injustices of contemporary society. As Dr. David Christopher Meenins sets off with Lady Drasher Elizabeth Tasgneganz, Dr. Virgil Augustus Grammario, and the mysterious Linda Deemer to make contact with the Longists (whose life span exceeds 800 years) we find ourselves on an odyssey rich with symbolism and metaphor in a world where little is what it appears to be at first glance.
Much like the fabled VSOP brandy produced at the monastery, Stella Atrium’s Seven Beyond is intoxicating and represents a lifetime of wisdom and talent distilled into a single draught of ambrosial liquor. Perhaps Lady Drascher Elizabeth Tasneganz says it best: “And now we should have a story,” she suggested. “A fanciful tale that will transport us to another time. Full of simile and metaphor, a broad-shouldered allegory elastic enough to convey some great truth in our lives.”