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The tagline on the cover says ‘Never Accept A Challenge Without Knowing The Rules’, well I agreed to this review without knowing the story. Full disclosure, Alyson has generously endorsed both my books and although we’ve never met I have followed her on Twitter for some time and find her delightful. My daughter bought a copy of The Warriors Return and really enjoyed it so when I found out the follow up was coming out I jumped at the chance to review it. The only thing was, I still hadn’t read the first one. Gasp.
My daughter was generous enough to allow me to borrow her copy of The Warriors Return and I dug in for an Ian Quicksilver marathon reading. The Cursed Dagger picks up right where we left Ian at the end of The Warriors Return.
[Spoiler Warning: if you haven’t read The Warriors Return yet stop reading this review unless you want to know how the first book ends]
Ian is still stuck in Puckerbush with the task of courting the magical princess Arianna. Side note: I Googled Puckerbush, Nevada and it does not register on Google maps but apparently there is such a place; although I’m not sure how its 28 residents would feel about Peterson’s portrayal of themselves and their town because both are pretty grim. [Side side note: That being said, I would still totally eat at the Wee Little Dragon.]
As an author working on my own sequel at the moment, I was interested to see what Alyson did with the world she created. Her task was to take the elements of the first story and build upon them. I can say honestly that she elevated the story on all levels. This book has everything a young fantasy reader is looking for. There are warriors, magical worlds, a princess, a wise old mentor, an evil magical villain, a dragon and far off kingdoms in need of help.
For just a moment I’ll talk about what I did not enjoy. Despite my new infatuation with Irish/Chinese cuisine I was not interested in returning to Puckerbush and, like Ian, yearned to see the glimmering shores of Bankhir. Although the action and drama are all ramped up in this book, a large part of it is set in the dingy desert town full of largely apathetic and uncaring people. I won’t lie, at more than one point I was rooting for the dragon.
The exception to the above paragraph was without a doubt Marvin. We met Marvin in The Warriors Return and he plays a much bigger role in this story and the story is better for it; not only his growing relationship with Ian but his interplay with Corbin.
Ah Corbin, the banished warrior guardian…and gym teacher. Corbin is my favorite character in both books. He embodies the warriors of Bankhir and really provides Ian with his only understanding of where he comes from and what he is fighting for. He is committed and uncompromising but beneath his battle hardened exterior he is caring and loyal. Plus he likes chunky peanut butter, which is always the correct answer.
I don’t think I am the target audience for Ian and Ari’s perpetually awkward courtship but I found plenty of smiles through Alyson’s first person narrative.
I could have sworn I heard the universe do an ominous ‘dun dun dun’ with my fate.
The Cursed Dagger is a worthy sequel in every way for Ian Quicksilver and company and I am looking forward to where they go next.
First things first, did I like More Than The Tattooed Mormon? Abso-freaking-lutely! I tried not to approach it with any preconceptions. Still, I figured that the story would be about who Al Carraway is, and for the most part that is true, but this book is much more than that.
Within the story of her life and on the pages of this book I was surprised to find myself. I do not mean that I am mentioned in the book, what I mean is that I found reflections of myself within her story. This was surprising because you would be hard pressed to find two more different people than Al and I. She is an outgoing, bubbly, East-coast young woman and I, well, I have aspirations of becoming a grumpy old man who wears orthopedic shoes with his socks pulled up to high. And yet as she bares her soul to her readers I found myself connecting to her words as if it was written for me. From the opening chapter you feel drawn to learn more about this extraordinarily optimistic person. I smiled through the tales of her early life and particularly how a pair of resourceful missionaries actually got her to listen to the message of the gospel. My heart ached for her when her happy life became quickly complicated and difficult as she chose to trust her feelings and follow after the light she received.
Then it happened.
Gently, she began to teach. Subtly, she began to inspire. Profoundly, she began to encourage. In a matter of a hundred and some odd pages you go from reading about the sproutlings of a tiny seed to standing beneath the shade of a mighty tree. Her expression of faith and testimony and her undeniable enthusiasm is infectious. Quickly you go from rooting for her and mourning through her struggles to applying her experience and wisdom to struggles of your own.
For me the highlight was the chapter entitled “Change”. She shares a quote from a bishop about “The most important principle of this gospel” that lies perfectly overtop her own story and weaves through the fabric of the hope for all followers of Christ.
Prior to reading her book my only exposure to Al was Twitter and a few of her blog posts. I had never heard her speak and yet I could hear her voice as I read her writing, which is the mark of a good writer. My wife and I went to her book signing at Deseret Book in Gilbert, Arizona. As we waited in line I was struck by how genuine and generous she was with each and every person who came to see her. I was struck but not surprised as I had already come to know who she from her writing. She greeted my wife as if she had been waiting for her arrival. That same warmth and personal impact is felt on the pages of her book.
Through this inspirational book you will come to better understand Al Carraway and through this remarkable author you will come to better understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and your intrinsic worth and your divine potential.
I do not have a complex rating system but I do have two thumbs and they are most emphatically pointing up.
But wait there’s more. Enjoy a delightful interview, by yours truly, with the author herself.