The Rock of Realm
By Lea Schizas
Star Publish Books, 2005
Life is exceedingly normal for fourteen year old Alex Stone. She has to clean up her dogs mess, get a ride to school from old Ms. Harris who shouldn’t be allowed on the road and babysit Ms. Harris’ grandchildren after school against her will. Life could not possibly be any worse. Could it?
As it turns out, it could. Alex, frustrated with her life and the boredom of it, wishes she were Queen in anEnchanted Forest. She dreams of wizards and knights in shining amour and wishes that she were something special. What Alex doesn’t realize however is that wishes have an annoying habit of being granted.
Walking through Greendale park with her best friend Sarah Breckninridge, Alex is hit on the head with a small, pink rock. It glitters in the moonlight and Alex is perturbed by it. Things get odder still when Sarah finds a small pouch near where Alex found the rock. The pouch is filled with a handful of glittering, gold dust.
Sarah tries to make fun of Alex’s wish for the fantastical, throwing dust around them like rain. Growing frustrated with her friend, Alex throws some of the gold dust in the air, reciting a passage she knows by heart:
“Glitter I toss, safely I will cross, into your realm it will lead, evil digress, the Queen I am to thee.”
With these words, Alex has no idea that her life is about to change forever. A mysterious wind starts up and wails around them, the two girls hardly even able to see each other. When the wind clears, they are no longer in Greendale Park. Instead, they have entered the mysterious world of Rock Kingdom.
They come upon a talking tree who tells Alex that she must have the Rock of Realm in her hand and that only the enchanted ones can possess its magic. Alex, feeling a touch of fear at the words, doesn’t realize her life is about to change forever….
The Rock of Realm is, without a doubt, the most engaging fantasy I have read in years. I’ve long stayed away from the fantasy genre. Lately it seems to be cookie cutter books; the same story with different characters all going on the same kinds of quests. This is especially true of young adult fantasy. Since the dawn of the Age of Harry Potter, too many authors have tried to ride the coat tails of Harry’s successes.
I’m glad to say that The Rock of Realm rides no one’s coat tails and is just as engaging as and indeed fresher than the Harry Potter books. Perhaps it is the Harry Potter books that ride The Rock of Realms coat tails?
Right away, you know you are in for a treat. While this is the usual story of a girl in a strange world with magical powers, Schizas gives the old tale quite a few twists. Nothing is what it seems and just when you think you have the story figured out is when Schizas takes another incredible turn and twists the story into something new and incredible.
What I love about The Rock of Realm are the characters. Alex and Sarah are so real and so grounded that you could swear that you have known these two girls all of your life. Alex is a strong protagonist who confronts dangers and magic head on and Sarah is a worthy sidekick. Alex’s dog Butch (and Butch’s pet squirrel Pops) who both talk are excellent for comic relief and keep the story from becoming too dark.
By the end of the novel, you care for these characters, you ache for them, and you cheer for them. This book has everything you need for an excellent story: a battle of good versus evil, magic and strange worlds, darkness that creeps out of shadows, talking animals and, most importantly, the strength of the human heart. It would not be going to far to say that The Rock of Realm is a life changing book. This is how fantasy should be written.
If you haven’t read The Rock of Realm yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. The novel is a light, fun and enjoyable romp through an unknown land that will leave you spellbound. You will want to read The Rock of Realm first to yourself and then to your kids. And then once more, just for the sheer enjoyment of it.
A fantastic book and one that should be considered a classic. If you haven’t read it yet, why are you still reading my review? Read and enjoy, you won’t be sorry.