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Reviewed by Benjamin Ookami for Readers' Favorite
You might want to put on something warm before you start reading E.L. Stricker's The Almanac. Illya Oslov lives with his "ma" and little sister in a village. He gets his hands on the Almanac, the type of book that causes him to wonder a lot and though he is a bit fearful about the scrutiny that might come from reading it, he still puts in a lot of effort to learn its secrets. Unlike us who live in a world where anything we want is easily attainable, Illya lives where things are different. After his village experiences a day of terrible weather, he makes this book known to his people because he must lead his village into a better future. What troubles him is how difficult it is to do so with only a smidgen of confidence to fuel him. Only seventeen years old, he has big shoes to fill as a leader while he has everyone's attention.
The author is great with setting descriptions that pull you quickly into a world that seems truly mesmerizing and it can quickly be seen how something like the weather, which becomes a life-threatening obstacle, is detailed. It is an interesting future world that has been struck by something stirring called the Calamity, where the knowledge and tools we have are scarce. The author conjures up the aching feeling that comes with starvation very well. I liked the character descriptions which make the characters realistic and I felt they were easily loveable. Where life lessons are concerned, E.L. Stricker teaches the reader valuable ones needed for survival - leadership, patience, and hard work - while the main character grows into his elected role and faces the challenges thereof.