The Tethered World by Heather L.L. FitzGerald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
TLDR: The Tethered World probably works better for younger audiences. I'd put it at the younger younger end of YA, maybe even MG, even if the main character is sixteen.
One of those books where first person POV just doesn't work for me.
Sixteen-year-old Sadie Larcen wakes up early one morning to discover that her parents are missing. When Great Aunt Jules turns up at their doorstep, she learns something even worse: they've been kidnapped by the not-so-fictional creatures her mother has been studying. Which all seems legit crazy, but she soon finds out it's not when she's sent into the Tethered World to rescue them along with her three of her younger siblings--the twins, Brady and Brock, and Sophie.
FitzGerald has created a colourful world where Gnomes, Dwarves, Leprechauns, Trolls, Ogres and Nephilim live in a secret underworld that's tethered to our own--accessible by dragon, of course, because how else would you get there? Sadie and her siblings are in for a great adventure as they try to save their parents as well as their long-lost great-aunt. They fight trolls and ogres, get tricked by mischievous leprechauns, get soothed by motherly dwarfs and yelled at by soldierly ones, and learn to rely on and work with each other.
The Christian content isn't overly smothering; it's presented as a fact of life. The Larcens and the denizens of the Tethered World (at least the good ones) believe in God, so they tend to pray when things get bad, or when they're in need of help. The Tethered World itself is presented as a sort of New Eden, after the first one was closed off after the Fall (hence, the Nephilim). I don't have any opinions, good or bad, about the theology behind that.
Unfortunately, I didn't really connect that well with Sadie, which is probably the main cause of my ultimate meh-ness about the book, since she is the main protagonist and it is her point of view. On the surface, she seems like a very real 16YO. She tries her best to lead and guide her siblings, but she's also selfish and afraid and somewhat distracted by handsome princes. She's definitely in over her head and it shows, even if that showing comes up in her berating herself for her failures, both real and perceived.
I guess I also get the feeling that the author is trying a little too hard. There are copious snarky jokes, often with a book or movie reference, and whilst I can get the occasional need to compare this fantastic world with Narnia (and the like), it gets a little too much. It just seems a little... dated? (DO kids talk about Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Three Musketeers, Indiana Jones, and Peter Pan nowadays? Hi-Ho Silver? And that much John Wayne? Planet of the Apes I can forgive-there have been recent remakes.) I guess it just seems a bit too over done and maybe a bit forced. (Or maybe that's a quirk of how homeschooled Americans speak, I wouldn't know.)
Still, The Tethered World is overall a pretty interesting read, suitable for younger audiences looking for adventure and fun.
Note: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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