Emerald Illusion (J. Rodes) – Review

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~ About the Book ~

Abrielle used to dream of a different life. Adventure. Romance. Hope.
Not of Kansas.

Now, after the loss of her mother and a move she didn’t want to make, she’s lost the will to dream anymore, let alone believe in her father’s Somedays.

But a swirling wind, a wall of leaves, and a blinding darkness literally transform her world.

She and both of her brothers, Brogan and Matteaus, are swept from Kansas to someplace beyond—to a desert in which everything is watery-brown, including the sky and the light of the weak sun. Abrielle finds herself in the middle of a realm everyone had heard of but no one believed existed. Except this version is rundown and broken, void of color and hope. Not much different from her view of life in Kansas.

When she gathers her bearings, she discovers her youngest brother is missing, lost in a land that is foreign and dying. Finding Matteaus becomes her sole focus, but when she and Brogan meet a boy named Levi, who only adds more mystery to this world that shouldn’t exist, she finds out this kingdom is much more perilous than the children’s book ever told.

Matteaus is in great danger.

There is nothing safe about Oz.

Genre:  Fantasy/Allegory
Release date:  25 October 2018
Pages:  316
Publisher:  Rooted Publishing

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  Goodreads

~ Excerpt ~

“Abrielle?” Brogan’s whisper hissed as his hand found mine and squeezed. “Are you seeing this?”
“I see it.” My answer tumbled out, the words tripping over each other as I climbed to my feet.
Brogan followed me. Once on his feet, he took a slow turn around me. “This isn’t Kansas,” he mumbled, a touch of wonder crowding into the fear in his tone.
“No?”
“No.” He pulled in a breath, not looking at me. “No…then…”
Wide eyes looked at me, all adventure and no more fear. “That could only mean one thing.”
I felt my eyebrows pinch into a scowl. “I can’t imagine a single thing it could mean—other than we’re both crazy right now. Perhaps one of us hit our heads. Me. I hit my head and am delirious. You’re not actually here—wherever here is. We’re not really talking…it’s all in my head.”
“That’s stupid. We’re both here, and I’m talking to you right now. I see what you see—a drab brown desert where there were trees and fields just a few minutes ago. We can’t both see the same thing if one of us is delirious.”
“Sure we can. It makes more sense than—”
“Oz.” His grin split. After one more glance around, he looked back at me, the adventure in his voice now dancing in his unnaturally green eyes. “We’ve found Oz.”
His declaration sparked irritation in me, though I wasn’t sure why.
“We didn’t find anything. We were dumped here, and this is a desert. Not Oz. Oz isn’t even real. Oz is a dumb story that didn’t have much meaning at all. I’m not in Oz. You’re not in Oz. This. Is. Not. Oz.”
Brogan stared at me. Grinning.
“Stop that.”
His grin grew into a Cheshire smile.
“Maybe you’re the one who hit his head, and this is your delirium.”
Before I could think what he was doing, Brogan rolled his fingers together and slugged my shoulder.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“Felt that, didn’t you?”
I growled. “Don’t do it again. And it doesn’t mean anything.”
With a roll of his eyes, Brogan bent, scooped a handful of dust into his palm, and stood again. With his other hand, he grabbed mine and pried open my fingers. The dust in his fist drained to my open palm, hot and chalky.
“That’s not delirium, sis.”

~ Review ~

J. Rodes (who also writes under the name Jennifer Rodewald) never disappoints, no matter the genre she sets her pen to. I may as well have been caught up in the tornado with Abrielle and her brothers, because once I began reading, I was swept into the world of this story and the sense of desolation that had all but hollowed Abrielle out.

It’s an uncomplicated tale on the surface—a perilous journey to the Emerald City to find Abrielle’s younger brother—and yet it was such a rich reading experience. The setting was brought vividly to life (ironic, considering its bleakness!) and the story was layered in meaning for those of us who are waiting for the coming of God’s kingdom.

But even more engaging than all of that were the relationship dynamics between the four main characters: Abrielle; her twin brother, Brogan; the enigmatic and noble Levi; and the feisty warrior, Kelila. Brogan was the chivalrous goof-off, perfectly countering both Abrielle’s uncertainty and Kelila’s brusqueness, and there was some subtle romantic tension between Abrielle and Levi, heightened by the mystery surrounding the nature of his friendship with Kelila and Abrielle’s sense that he’s holding something back.

As you might well expect, nothing is as it seems in this world of illusion. The closer I got to the end, the more the plot thickened and the more I wondered how certain parts of this story would resolve—whether they could resolve.

But they did. And for one aspect in particular, in a way that left me with a bemused smile on my face, thinking, “You know what? That’s just the perfect ending.” I loved that.

Excellent reading for young adults and not-so-young adults alike!

I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

~ About the Author ~

J RodesJennifer Rodewald (J. Rodes) is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. The draw to fiction has tugged hard on her heart since childhood, and when she began pursuing writing she set on stories that reveal the grace of God.

Aiming to live with boundless enthusiasm, her creed is vision, pursuit, and excellence. Blessed with a robust curiosity, she loves to research. Whether she’s investigating the history of a given area, the biography of a Christian icon, or how nature declares the glory of God, her daily goal is to learn something new.

After growing up in Denver, Jen moved to Nebraska to attend college where she met and married a Husker. She now lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, laughs at her horses and chickens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.

Connect with Jen:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Instagram

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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12 Responses to Emerald Illusion (J. Rodes) – Review

  1. Kaley Rhea says:

    O_o I want it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jen says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you were swept into this story! ❤ Thank you for reading. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Kelly says:

    I’m looking forward to this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved it too! It’s a hard one to talk about in a review b/c you don’t want to spoil anything but it’s a great conversation piece for book clubs!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: First Line Friday – 26 October 2018 – Emerald Illusion (J. Rodes) | Fiction Aficionado

  6. Rachel Dodson says:

    This book sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to share it with my 13 yr old.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Janet W. Ferguson says:

    I loved this story!

    Liked by 1 person

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