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Reviewed by Stephanie Chapman for Readers' Favorite
Kelsey Denner knows that her best friends, Emily and Okimi, are hiding something from her. Frustrated, Kelsey rides her bike as hard as she can on a difficult biking trail. In Aracron, Bethany Arliss throws the frustrated teen through a portal, which lands her in a green mist-filled forest. She hears the noise of something large approaching. A fearsome monster with red eyes looks straight at her. Frozen in place, the beast comes within inches of her but changes its attention to another animal that it pursues back into the forest. A terrified Kelsey runs back along the path, hoping she can find the way back home. She sees a village and heads towards it. Second guessing her decision, she collapses next to a giant tree. A woman approaches her and invites her back to her home to eat and warm up. Sakura introduces Kelsey to the village of Pardok. After being told that they can help her return home, but only after she learns certain skills, Kelsey becomes angry. Why can’t she go home now?
Bethany Arliss paints a fantasy world of epic proportions. The world-building of Aracron is beautifully depicted. I felt like I was walking alongside Kelsey as she travels throughout the new world it transported her to. An intense encounter with wildlife Kelsey encounters enlightened me to why she learned certain skills before she could go home. Wildlife wasn’t the only thing Kelsey had to face. She had to fight her internal conflict of repressing feelings that caused her to want to run from confrontations. I felt relief as she understood how the residents of Pardok’s gifts worked. Sakura hurt when Kelsey hurt, as her skill was one of empathy for those she cared for. Commander Hallim’s physical description reminds me of a mad scientist, but he made a remarkable no-nonsense leader who held nothing back with Kelsey. Aracron’s pages contain suspense, unique characters with distinct personalities, adventure, slow burn romance, and personal growth. Anyone who loves reading fantasy novels where they can escape into a beautiful world will enjoy this flawless story.