Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
Earthly, imaginative, dark—Seasons of the Blue Pearl is a song to save the world.
This young adult fantasy takes you on an adventure through desert landscapes and changing seasons. It’s a long and arduous journey full of demons and evil creatures, but it’s a journey of risks worth taking—in order to save the world.
Mia lives in a dangerous world, but she doesn’t know it yet. Her parents have always done well of shielding her from the creatures lurking outside their near-desert home. But you can’t keep her home forever. After venturing outside, the dark and magical truth of her world becomes nearly impossible to escape.
This dark YA fantasy isn’t afraid to scare you. After narrowly escaping demons, Mia and her family venture to a land she’s only heard of in legends and stories in order to find out what to do.
And that thing they tell her to do? Well, it puts her front and center in saving the world.
The stakes are high in this one. If Mia doesn’t manage to sing a magical song in the antagonist’s world, the evil ogre (Clah) will take over her world and she may never make it back. She has to sing the song word for word and uninterrupted, or it won’t work. With a flurry of demons chasing after her and with her family putting their lives on the line, it’s safe to say that she wears the brunt of the responsibility on her shoulders.
I don’t see enough dark elements in young adult fantasy. It’s so refreshing that Seasons of the Blue Pearl isn’t afraid to scare the bejesus out of its teenage readers. Young fans of horror stories will feel specially catered to when they open up the spine of this one. Author Nicholas Varner describes the demons in great detail, making sure images stay constant in our minds when thinking of what Mia is going to run into next. And when they start falling from the sky? Look out.
What stands out most to me here, however, is the earthen aspects of this fantasy. The wind plays a vital role, almost as a sort of god in itself, and it whips around the page with purpose and, occasionally, violence. The randomness of each gust of wind reminds us of the planet who’s in charge and who deserves to be listened to.
“The voice of the Sacred Wind has always been there, weaving its magic through all the world around her, but she had covered her ears to the sound of its voice. It took the encounter with the demons to get her to listen.”
This one is definitely a good time, but it can maneuver through its adventure and escape plot line with slow pacing at times. We can read through pages of dialogue and physical movement without much happening in the story, so it can feel a touch too long.
Seasons of the Blue Pearl has plenty to offer young fantasy readers with a bent toward horror. It’s a story we know and love—the protagonist who learns she’s special and that she’s responsible for the fate of the world—and it is peppered with unique elements like terrifying demons and a profound respect for the great blue pearl in the sky.
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