Welding together ancient goddesses, sacred trees, the last High King of Ireland, a Chinese warrior called Madame Wong, fairies, dragons, time-travel, ancient Samhain celebrations not necessarily held at full moon, theoretical physics, teens with a penchant for deception and risk, and even a serious threat of the end of the world, Natalie Wright’s Akasha chronicles certainly offers young readers a bit of everything. It’s a teen novel with a strong teen flavor, blending modern dialog with slightly off-kilter myths and mysticism. “Holy crap, man, are you saying that Emily has to become a nun?” asks Jake when the not quite human visitor hints at his friend’s destiny. Three intrepid American youngsters soon leave home on an unplanned journey to Ireland, breaking rules and acquiring funds with surprising ease. A cartoonishly horrid aunt meets unexpected disobedience, and the well-named zombie dad finally tries to save the day. But true salvation comes at the hands of science, mysticism and goddess worship, when Emily learns the power within herself, her father learns the way back after tragedy, and two teens learn to trust each other.
Emily versus the super-sized ninja is certainly an exciting scene, but the presence of so many different influences can be somewhat overwhelming in this novel. Mystical lessons evoke a cross between Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and the Karate Kid—I could almost hear “Wax on wax off” in my head as Emily did laundry.
There’s a curious mix of easy violence and well-founded sympathy. Rules are broken with surprising ease and lack of consequence in both modern and ancient worlds. But the novel’s written for middle-grade and younger teens with a penchant for fantasy, not threat, and it’s certainly got plenty of adventure and intriguing ideas.
Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this novel from World Literary Café in exchange for my honest review