The Crystal Ball – MA Bridger

Overall, the story is a tale of a young elfling discovering who she is and why she feels out of place, much in keeping with the general formula used for young adult novels. Zora often refers to herself as a “weirdo.” She is aware of some secrets, but submerges them beneath a persona of being a normal child. Her thoughts dominate the storyline, even though the first person POV switches to other characters in some chapters.

Combining an elf kingdom with the dinosaur age, the reader must reconcile two very different worlds into a synchronous story. Unfortunately, the lines of the story don’t always mesh well enough to give a sense of solid structure, and some of the transitions lurch awkwardly from theme to theme. The dinosaur part of the story line does little to enhance the main plot.

The reader is introduced immediately to Zora, an eight-year-old elfling who is suddenly embedded with a mysterious purple stone, and she is enlightened to the fact that she is a special mage who wields control of the air and souls. There is an underlying story that the goddesses of this realm placed their powers within three special stones and buried them. The stone wielders, those who will take possession of these powers, are being awakened, and we briefly see the remainder of this trio in separate chapters later on. However, this storyline is disjointed and buried too deeply within the narrative to garner much attention.

The characterizations are inconsistent throughout the book. The mother is shown as both loving and caring towards her daughter, as well as hateful and twisted. Zora is very flighty and seems to be living a happy contented life in one chapter, and then feeling depressed and forlorn in the next. Her physical age is not represented in her thoughts or actions. I felt as though I were actually reading two separate sets of characters.

Written from several first person points of view, the narrations sound childish and spontaneous, drifting into unfocused run-on sentences that draw away from the true storytelling. The girl’s thoughts are convoluted and disjointed, much as those of any teenage girl might be (but then I remember that she is only eight). However, this attempt at stream-of-consciousness writing left me questioning the purpose.

This story doesn’t really come into its own until Chapter 17, when all of the elements dabbled with in previous chapters finally coalesce into a readable narrative. Through the end, I found a story and style that are not matched in the beginning of the book.





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