October 17, 2007

Elissa's Quest

By Erica Verrillo
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

This is the first book in the Phoenix Rising series. As far as Elissa knows, she is an orphaned peasant girl, apprenticed to the healer Nana in a small village. She fantasizes about the identity of her unknown father, only knowing that her mother died in childbirth. Elissa does have one secret: a magical gift to speak to and understand animals that Nana warns her to keep silent about. Then when Elissa is 13 years old, her father appears, and he turns out to be the prince of Castlemar, Lord Falk. In an instant, Elissa is swept out of the only life she knows and brought with Lord Falk on a journey to meet with the Khan. Although Elissa is desperate for a sign of love from her father, she despairs when Lord Falk tells her that she is to be used as a bargaining chip with the Khan so he'll lend Falk the army he needs to win a war in Castlemar. Left in the Citadel with her faithful donkey Gertrude and a young enslaved serving girl named Maya, Elissa begins to learn of her destiny when she hears a prophecy about the Phoenix and the Seeker. But first before she fulfills any prophecies, Elissa must escape the evil Khan! Can she find a way out of the Citadel and back to her father? This is a very likeable fantasy, with a plucky heroine. Although some elements of the story are rather contrived and convenient, most readers won't mind and will be swept up in the fast-moving plot. Those who like this story will look forward to the sequels.

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