Fantasy / Science Fiction
Crystal Doors: Book II: Ocean Realm
Published By: Little, Brown and Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
After reading Book I of the Crystal Doors fantasy series by husband and wife writing team Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson, I couldn’t wait to delve into Crystal Doors: Book II: Ocean Realm. In the first novel, fourteen-year-old cousins Gwen and Vic Pierce were transported to the magical world of Elantya through a crystal door. The teens soon learned that a sorcerer, intent on conquering as many realms as possible, had targeted their mothers, hoping to use them to open sealed doors to other worlds. All of this comes as a shock to Gwen and Vic, as does the theory formed by the Elantyans that these two teenagers may be part of a prophecy regarding the future of the world.
Ocean Realm picks up where the original novel left off – Elantya is picking up the pieces after the massive and deadly Merlon attack thwarted with the help of Vic, Gwen and their new friends. Gwen and Vic struggle to adjust to the idea that they may have powers never before realized. Tested for their abilities, they soon discover that they have the power to open doors to other realms. They also learn that their powers intensify when they are around their friends – Sharif, a prince from a flying city; Tiaret, a warrior from the exotic grasslands of Afirik; and Lyssandra, a telepath born and raised in Elantya. The five youths are taken under the wing of Rubicas, one of the most powerful sages in Elantya.
All seems quiet for now, but the Elantyans know that the Merlons will be back. Thus, they begin to increase their efforts to protect Elantya from their nemesis. Unfortunately, the Elantyans are unprepared for the Merlons’ next move. Lead by the traitor Orpheon, the Merlons manage to kidnap Vic, Gwen, Lyssandra, Sharif and Tiaret, bringing them back to their underwater city. Vic and Gwen are the true targets here and they are brought before Azric, the extremely powerful evil sorcerer the teens had all been warned about.
Can Vic and Gwen escape the clutches of the evil Azric, or will they be forced to open sealed crystal doors, freeing Azric’s army to conquer Elantya? And what tortures await Lyssandra, Sharif and Tiaret at the hands of Orpheon and the Merlons in the lajava mines? Can the friends escape in time to warn the Elantyans of the new Merlon plan to destroy the island city?
The more I read this series, the more I’m reminded of the Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights series. The personalities of the characters in the Crystal Doors series mirror that of the major characters of the Young Jedi Knights series. In the first book of the Crystal Doors series, we only received an introduction to these characters. In Ocean Realm, readers are treated to a more in depth look at each of the teenage friends. In my experience, adversity tends to bring out the true identity of a person and, in this novel, the situations the friends find themselves in helps to peel back the layers of each character, defining each one for the reader.
I found Ocean Realms to be an incredibly fast read – I was done in a couple of days. I would have finished faster if I didn’t have to eat, sleep and work. The story written by Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson flows like so much poetry across the pages. The writing is so smooth and yet you can find hidden clues here and there to future events if you read carefully enough. I enjoy this style of foreshadowing – the kind that offers subtle hints, not in-your-face obvious clues.
The story was fun and fast moving with plenty of action and magic. It is well-written and the heroes are presented in such a way as to make the reader care what happens to them. I enjoyed how the evil Azric was portrayed – in his eyes murder and torture were unfortunate but necessary to achieve a goal. Chilling. I also enjoyed that this novel is noticeably darker than the last. Often times, authors of young adult books portray everything in a cheery aspect, making light of dark times in a person’s life in an effort to soften the blow for the reader. Though Moesta and Anderson do throw some humor into Ocean Realm to lighten the mood, they do not skimp when it comes to raw emotions and pain. The world is not always a happy place and these authors choose to portray their fictional realm in a somewhat realistic light. Kudos for them.
There were some rather surprising twists in Ocean Realm and I can’t wait to see what Book III has to offer. Crystal Doors: Book II: Ocean Realm is a great read for any fantasy lover, regardless of age.