One minute, you try to fall asleep in your bed in Austin, the next minute, you find yourself in the middle of a new world that is at civil war. This is exactly what happens to 9-year old Miles in Wondrous, written by Travis M. Riddle and published on January 17, in 2017. The little boy stumbles upon the fantasy world of Rompu, where the king has set free a monster that is out to destroy everything and everyone. Now it seems that the whole kingdom is dependent on Miles and the magic he finds within himself.
The author throws us into the fantasy world without giving any prior information. We are right there with Miles, getting to know Rompu and its fantastic inhabitants. There are the Skyr, scorpion-like men who work for the king and think that Miles is a spy of the queen. They imprison him together with a frog-like creature that is speaking French and calls itself Mortimer. Together with Mortimer, Miles escapes and sets out on a journey to the kingdom to find a way home.
During many encounters with enemies and allies, Miles learns that he can access and control the elements by linking them to emotions from certain memories of his past. We find out that his grandmother died, his parents are going through a divorce and Miles himself struggles with mysophobia. While he is in Rompu, Miles not only learns how to use these emotions to his advantage in order to kill the scary monster, but he also starts facing his problems and comes to terms with them at the end of the story.
Overall, I enjoyed reading about Miles and his adventures in Rompu. His character seemed a bit older at times, but he still had his moments of childishness and needed protection and guidance from adults.
The issues from Austin were interwoven into the story of Rompu in quite an impressive way and while it confused me the first time, I liked how it linked both worlds together and showed Miles‘ emotional development.
There were parts in the story that did not quite add up, especially for middle school readers who take up this book. There are some characters in the story whose whereabouts are left unknown, we do not really find out why Miles was brought into this strange world in the first place – the monster was summoned by the king, so who summoned Miles? – and while I enjoyed reading literature from Rompu, I did not quite understand what purpose they had in the story, except to tell us that Miles did not enjoy them. It was also rather confusing that Miles could get the same food in Rompu as he had in Austin, but the inhabitants of the magical world have never heard about TVs and movies.
The ending was also rather abrupt. We do not know if the king’s mental health was really linked to the appearance of the monster. But overall, it was a great read and I felt sad when I finished and had to say goodbye to the magical creatures of Rompu. With more refinement, I think Riddle will go a long way.
By Travis M. Riddle
Miles went to sleep tucked tightly in bed in his Austin apartment and woke up in the middle of a damp, dark forest in the kingdom of Rompu, a land being torn apart by a civil war between its king and queen.
When Miles learns that a monstrous entity flying through the countryside and killing for sport was summoned from a portal to another realm, he believes this creature is the key to learning how to open another rift and return home. Tracking down this beast and mastering his newfound magical abilities may be the only way for Miles to help save Rompu and get back to his family in Texas.