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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
The Voice, the Revolution and the Key by Jenny L. Cote is a Christian action and speculative fiction children's book and the fifth in Cote's The Epic Order of the Seven series. This review is of the audiobook as narrated by Denny Brownlee. The Order of Seven is a group of animals tasked with missions that defy time, space, and mortality, each one individual in their skillset and backstory. Liz is a sleek black cat with an incredible intellect and dripping with the sophistication one would expect from her native France, whereas the orange Irish cat who loves her, Al, has qualities not quite so visible to those who do not know him. Kate and Max are terriers from Scotland, and Nigel is a British mouse with highly polished deportment and is an academic to boot. Gillamon and Claire round out the group with spiritual guidance, presenting themselves how and when they are most needed.
The Voice, the Revolution and the Key is my first introduction to The Epic Order of Seven, and I feel like I've missed out on something by only discovering the work of Jenny L. Cote now. I am a British reader with the unique pleasure of having an American wife. We live in London and—I kid you not—within a mile of where Benjamin Franklin lived for 17 years. This book is really pleasant to listen to and creative to the extent where, as a grown man, I was able to quickly get on board with time-traveling animals who have seen it all, including their experiences during the time of Noah. Yes, that Noah. This is a Christian-themed series and the religious incantations are frequent and direct, as are conversations like the one Gillamon and Claire have as they reminisce over St. Andrew and his martyrdom as a true follower of Christ. These tie in with the foundation of American history as it is told through the experiences of The Order, and for me, meeting the Founding Fathers as children was an absolute treat! The assignments of each in The Order are critical in their roles of shaping them into the adults that will ultimately fulfill their destiny. Cote casts the net deep and wide here, and this is where the necessity of a novel that flirts with 800 pages has to be. The measured pacing of a book this size promises character development and equal billing to each protagonist, and Cote delivers.
As for the audio narrator Denny Brownlee, the projection of words and the clarity of speech are of a very high standard. There is an enthusiasm in his voice that is almost palpable. I have no doubt whatsoever that children listening will be as entertained by the reading as they are by the story itself. The voice of each character is projected as strong, distinct, and energetic, even if to the adult British ear the accents are more parody than precision. The benefit of audio is that it can be listened to while one is stuck in traffic or pretending to exercise on a treadmill, and I look forward to going back in time myself to “read” the first four books in the series.