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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
Nathaniel, Orah, and Thomas, best friends since childhood, live a peaceful, bucolic existence in Little Pond, a place as small as its name suggests. Their lives are simple, governed by the teachings from the Temple, and the ministrations of the Vicars and their squadron of Deacons. Hints of the past, the ‘darkness’, are resolutely squashed by the Vicars who explain that to doubt is to reject the ‘light’ of their teachings. Subsequently, the perceived ‘magical’ elements of the past are crushed in favor of so-called mystical teachings. For a thousand years, this peaceful existence continues. Nevertheless, secrets have a way of revealing themselves. Nathaniel doesn’t accept the Vicars’ teachings; he believes there is more to life. A legend exists of earlier magic, hidden away in a place called the Keep. The secret path to the Keep has been preserved by Keepers, who will pass on the clues to a group called Seekers. But of course no one dares question the Temple, until Thomas is taken away for a ‘teaching,’ and he comes back broken in mind and spirit. Seeds of rebellion grow in Nathaniel, and come to fruition when his friend Orah is taken. Determined to save her, Nathaniel ends up in the prisons of Temple City, and finds out the truth from a long-time prisoner. Armed with knowledge, he sets forth with Thomas and Orah to find the Keep. Can they survive the journey, and can they inspire their people to realize the truth behind the Temple? Will the fulfillment of their mission destroy their world?
Author David Litwack has created a believable dystopian world devoid of technology. Technology overtook humanity (perhaps a salutary lesson here?) and led to social collapse. Hints of the hideous effects of indoctrination in a totalitarian society remind us of the dangers of the suppression of knowledge. This is a coming-of-age story, a tale of friendship and loyalty, and of self-discovery and self-belief. Each of the friends discovers their own talents, and with that, their purpose in life. The author takes a philosophical approach and engages readers in ideas of freedom and choice, both personal and of thinking. This is such a well-written book, with so many thought-provoking concepts, that I am sure readers will thoroughly enjoy it and appreciate the author’s message.