________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 22. . . .February 7, 2014


This I Promise.

Shaylynn Wilbon.
Bloomimgton, IN: AuthorHouse, 2013.
144 pp., trade pbk., hc. & e-book, $14.95 (pbk.), $23.99 (hc.), $3.99 (e-book).
ISBN 978-1-4772-9073-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4772-9074-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4772-9072-9 (e-book).

Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.

Review by Michelle Superle.

** /4



Seth says, “I just have one more question. Why didn’t I die that night, when they sunk our ship?”

“We cast a spell, using spell books we found during one of our research trips,” [his parents] say.

Seth waits for them to continue, and when they don’t, he asks, “What kind of spell?”

. . . . “We are very sorry for what we did, but we knew Rose’s parents were going to come after us sooner or later, and we accepted it. But we couldn’t let them get you, so we cast a spell that connected you to Rose. It made it so that if they killed you, she would die, too. We knew they wouldn’t do that to their own daughter, so we cast the spell and left a note telling them what we had done, and then we left. Little did we know, they had a spell book as well. In that book was a spell that would erase one’s memory. After they sunk our ship, when we were coming back to try to talk some sense into the rest of the Fire Populous, they used that spell on you, Rose, and took you and Seth to the house you were living in before you came here. You know the rest.”

“Why would you do that?” I ask, “Now if they kill him, they kill me, too!”

“We are very sorry, but we didn’t know what else to do.”

“Rose, they were only trying to project me,” Seth says.


Shaylynn Wilbon’s fantasy adventure tale This I Promise, best suited to readers aged 12 through 16, spins on a fascinating premise: besides human beings, the world is made up of four “Populous” races. These groups of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air beings live on remote islands far from human civilization. But Rosalie, a Fire Populous, grows up in the human world. She is shocked to learn of her true nature—and even more shocked to discover the connections she has with the Populous groups. Rose partners up with Seth, a Fire Populous believed to be a Demon by the others. Their fates interlinked, the two dodge danger, weave intrigue, and set out to learn how to bring back the dead.

      The plot of This I Promise is compelling, and the inhabitants of its fantasy world are fascinating. These qualities will keep many fantasy fans stuck to the story, keen to find out what happens next.

     More demanding readers, though, will find themselves frustrated. This I Promise is self-published, and like most books of the kind, it suffers from lack of effective editing on several levels. Significant lapses in continuity and logic mar the exciting story’s strong premise, detracting from the plot’s impact. Stylistically, the work would benefit from a cleaner hand and more original, expressive prose. Some readers will be able to move past the flaws, while others will find the stumbling blocks too high and too many.

     Nevertheless, 16-year-old Wilbon should be commended for her unique ideas, as well as for the impressive perseverance necessary to bring a novel to fruition. Originality and stamina have bested many an older, smoother writer. The enthusiasm and zest in This I Promise make it clear that someday soon Wilbon will hone her talents and produce more polished work.

     In the meantime, the book will find a happy home in those school libraries that celebrate and make a special place for works authored by young people. In such libraries, This I Promise will sit snugly beside Eragon, Trouble All The Way, The Diary of a Young Girl, and The Outsiders.

Recommended with Reservations

Michelle Superle is an Assistant Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley where she teaches children’s literature and creative writing courses. She has served twice as a judge for the TD Award for Canadian Children’s Literature and is the author Black Dog, Dream Dog and Contemporary, English-language Indian Children’s Literature (Routledge, 2011).

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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