By Author / Illustrator
Paperback / softback
BEFORE THERE WERE PEOPLE, THERE WERE BEASTS . . . The island of Ramoa was once luscious and populated with mighty beasts. Now though, it is home to barren and tamed cities, where nature is locked out and trouble is brewing.
When Kayla's beloved animal companion, a rare winged pangron, is stolen, she's determined to get him back. But to do so, she'll have to leave her city and journey into the wild and forbidden Beastlands. There, she meets Rustus, an exiled young warrior, and Alethea, a healer desperately seeking a cure for a mysterious disease.
As their quests unite them, they'll adventure across the lands they know so little about, leading them to discoveries both great and terrifying. Not least that the beasts they've always been taught to fear might not be so terrifying after all...
The first instalment in an epic new fantasy adventure series for readers of DRAGON REALM, FIREBORN and SKANDAR AND THE UNICORN THIEF.
On the island of Ramoa, three young people live in three very separate societies. Kayla lives in Sophiatown where she is a Sky Cadet with her pangron, Faro. He is taken from her after another pangron is stolen. Alethea is a healer carrying on her father's work living in the Blue District, where the scourge is prevalent and she is desperately looking for a cure. Lastly, Rustus lives in Ataria where he is about to undertake the Scorching ceremony to become an esteemed warrior. After he fails this test, he has to leave Ataria and go into the Beastlands where the three meet up; Kayla to look for Faro, Alethea to look for a cure for the scourge and Rustus rather at a loose end as to what to do with his life. They unite in the quest to find the pangron and in particular, the cure for the scourge as Kayla falls sick with it and there is said to be a hospital on Frostfall Mountain.
Beastlands: Race to Frostfall Mountain has one of the most complicated beginnings I have read for a long time, introducing the three young people and their differing backgrounds along with an overwhelming number of names of plants and beasts, along with words like 'necrotic'. Once the first few chapters have been negotiated, the story moves apace with the three main characters with their differing personalities and interests coming together and helping and supporting each other.
There are some good descriptions of the settlement and hospital on Frostfall mountain but it does stretch belief somewhat that an unknown plant juice would be injected into Kayla's bloodstream in an attempt to cure her, and that Alethea would be encouraged to do this by a doctor. There is an interesting directory at the end of the book describing the various beasts with drawings, put together by Maltheus Macdonald and it would have been good to put these in the main body of the text as they first appeared, as has been done with the plants. The ending leads to a sequel.
352 pages / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+