The prologue to Talisman of El grabbed my attention immediately, since it does not explain much, but throws the reader right in the middle of something sinister. After an opening like that, I did not quite expect the story to take the turn it did later in the book, as more and more twists were added to a familiar mythology.
The first book in a trilogy, Talisman of El takes place in 2013, with the prologue set in New York. What starts out as a conversation between Derkein Odessa and his father ends abruptly in a strange and brutal attack, but not before Derkein’s father gives him a mysterious talisman. There is also a mention of Arcadia in their conversation – another world, presumably located inside the earth.
In England, 14-year-old Charlie lives with his guardian Jacob, since both of his parents are dead. As Charlie tries to adjust at his new school, he becomes friends with a girl named Alex. Charlie is not as ordinary as he would like to believe – he had a dream about Derkein and his father being attacked, and all the other strange coincidences in his life are not to be ignored. Finding a gateway to Arcadia seems to be the only way for Charlie to discover truth about himself. Very soon it becomes clear that Jacob is not quite the man he seemed to be in the beginning. As Charlie’s life seems to be spinning out of control, he becomes more and more involved with the mystery of Arcadia, and after one strange night encounter in the woods, the story really picks up.
Once the action shifts to the world of Arcadia, the mythology takes an interesting twist, after seemingly focusing on the idea of another dimension and the four elements. The scale becomes much grander, there are plenty of strange and dangerous things going on, and the talisman that Derkein has is going to play a very prominent role.
There is a very nice dynamic between Charlie and Alex which grounds the story in reality. Derkein is also an interesting character who gets his share of the weird and the dangerous. While I really enjoyed the story, at some points I found myself wishing for a bit more with regards to the writing. Some of the word choices seemed a bit repetitive and several descriptions could have used a bit more details, but all in all, it didn’t detract from the story. Talisman of El establishes a great set up for the sequels, with its fascinating mythology and likable characters.
Talisman of El came out on May 20th, 2012.