CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 22. . . .February 7, 2014
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).
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.