Friday, June 26, 2009

The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul

The Vanishing Sculptor

The Vanishing Sculptor
by Donita K. Paul

Trade Paperback: 398 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
First Released: 2009

Author Website

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Return to the world of the dragon keepers, where the fate of three missing statues will determine the fate of the world.

Tipper, a young emerlindian woman, has been responsible for the upkeep of her family’s estate during her sculptor father’s disappeared several years ago. To make ends meet, she's been forced to sell off the artwork he left behind. When at last her father returns, accompanied by two strangers from a distant land, Tipper discovers that her actions have unbalanced the whole foundation of her world and endangered her father's life. She must act quickly to undo the threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own? The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions–including the nearly five-foot tall parrot, Beccaroon, and the aristocratic tumanhofer, Bealomondore--and sets out on a quest, eventually witnessing the loving care and miraculous resources of Wulder.

Join new characters and old friends in a fantasy that inhabits the same world as the DragonKeeper Chronicles, but in a different country and an earlier time, where the people know nothing of Wulder or Paladin.

This is a Christian allegorical fantasy novel. Though I haven't reviewed Donita K. Paul's "DragonKeeper Chronicles" series here, I thoroughly enjoyed them and they're the favorite books of my 11-year-old assistant. She reads them again and again. Though you don't need to read those books to understand this one, I'd suggest reading them first because I like them better.

The Vanishing Sculptor is a good book with enjoyable and entertaining characters. However, I don't think this book had the right primary viewpoint character. Jayrus is the character most necessary to the quest and who develops the most, but he's not a viewpoint character. On the other hand, Tipper is very impulsive and enthusiastic, but serves mainly for reader laughs and as hostage/bait. She's not necessary to the quest and plays only a minor role in the success of the last battle.

The beginning of the story is a smidgen slow, but the pacing picks up once the travelling begins. The world-building is good, but the author tends to use unfamiliar names for things (whether unique to her world or not) without giving the reader a good idea of what they are. There is a glossary in the back, though, and the book is understandable even without it.

The text rarely tells which direction the group is travelling. However, the map at the front of the book doesn't agree with the direction and distances that are given in the text, which I found confusing.

All that said, I suspect that most young adults and many adults will thoroughly enjoy the book. Since all the Christian elements are allegorical and sometimes a bit non-obvious even for Christians, non-Christians will probably also enjoy the book.

There was no sex, cussing, or gore. Overall, I'd rate this "good, clean fun."

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Beccaroon cocked his head, ruffled his neck feathers, and spread his wings, not to fly, but to test the air. He stretched, allowing his crimson wings to spread. The branch beneath him sank and rose again, responding to his weight. Moist, hot air penetrated his finery, and he held his wings away from his brilliant blue sides.

“Too hot for company,” he muttered. Having declared his opinion, he rocked back and forth from one four-toed scaly foot to the other on the limb of a sacktrass tree. The leaves shimmered as the motion rippled along the branch. “Where is that girl?”

His yellow head swiveled almost completely around. He peered with one eye down the overgrown path, and then scoped out every inch within his range of vision, twisting his neck slowly.

A brief morning shower had penetrated the canopy above and rinsed the waxy-coated leaves. A few remaining drops glistened where thin shafts of tropical sun touched the dark green foliage. On the broot vine, flowers the size of plates lifted their fiery red petals, begging the thumb-sized bees to come drink before the weight of nectar broke off the blooms.

Beccaroon flew to a perch on a gnarly branch. He sipped from the broot blossom and ran his black tongue over the edges of his beak. A sudden breeze shook loose a sprinkle of leftover raindrops. Beccaroon shook his tail feathers and blinked. When the disturbance settled, he cocked his head and listened.

“Ah!” he said. “She’s coming.” He preened his soft green breast and waited, giving a show of patience he didn’t feel. His head jerked as he detected someone walking with the girl.

“Bah!” The word exploded from his throat. He flew into a roost far above the forest floor where he couldn’t be seen from the ground.

He watched the approach of the girl placed under his guardianship. Tipper strolled along the path below. She wore a flowing, golden gown over her tall, lean body. She’d put her long blonde hair in a fancy braid that started at the crown of her head. A golden chain hung from each of her pointed ears. And she’d decorated her pointed facial features with subdued colors, blue for her eyelids, rose for her lips, and a shimmering yellow on her cheeks. Beccaroon sighed. His girl was lovely.

Read the rest of Chapter One.

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