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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The first book in Al Stone’s Arcadia Saga, Talisman of El will grip you at the very beginning. Fourteen-year-old Charlie Blake often has nightmares, but he never had one that makes him wake up sweating, clutching his chest, and catching his breath. Visions of long ago, danger, and death infest his sleep, and they appear real. In one of his gruesome dreams, he witnesses a murder, and he struggles to contain it out of fear that no one would believe him, as it only happened in a dream. As he tries to make sense of his nightmare, he will encounter Derkein Odessa, a mysterious man who is aging prematurely and in possession of a talisman. Together, they will search for the mysterious land of Arcadia. Charlie will soon discover that his life is anything but ordinary.
Talisman of El is a wonderful initial offering for a promising new series. The story draws inspiration from mysticism and biblical allusions. The prologue sets the mood for your page-turning journey as it shows Derkein and his father being attacked by unseen dark forces, then it jumps into the first chapter with Charlie having nightmares. Al Stone effectively ends most of the chapters with cliffhangers, which induces your curiosity to keep on reading. In young adult fiction, the young hero battling external forces while battling his own demons is a common trope. However, this book gives it a balance. Charlie may operate in a world of bullies, thieves, and supernatural forces, but he is also blessed with faithful allies that keep him on his feet. Consider adding the Arcadia Saga on your list of series to read.