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Reviewed by K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite
Elias wasn't sure how he came to be lying helplessly in the snow that day, but what he did know was that he had never been more grateful for aid, even if it had come in the form of a large talking polar bear named Malakh. Trying to understand his situation, he soon learns that aspects of himself are missing; he lacks the ability to touch, feel, and as time progresses his condition worsens. Malakh warns him this development is due to the degradation of the Saile, the place in which he now finds himself. If Elias wishes to return home, he must first return the balance to this world by restoring the five pillars back to their glory. But there are forces that want to ensure he fails; a dark being who wants to destroy all. Can Elias succeed in saving himself and this unusual world, or will the darkness devouring this land consume all?
Stranger in a Familiar Place is a beautiful, charming fantasy by Barakah Smith. I must be honest, I did not want to put it down. There is so much to love about this book, from the characters and their rapport, to the interconnectedness of everything. This book is everything I loved about reading as a child. It possesses a strong plot with a great sense of adventure, challenges, and adversity. There are times you will become emotionally invested in the plights of the characters; you want them to uncover the truth, to press on, and overcome the odds. I enjoyed how there are some surprises that, if you pay attention, you can unravel before these become apparent which, to me, is always rewarding. The scenes are well-written, perfectly paced, and flow with ease. Whilst I would say this was aimed at a younger market than myself, it has the ability to reconnect an older reader to the charm and whimsy that can only be fully encompassed in this style of book. If you love reading a tale filled with wonder and adventure, then this book is for you.