The Centennial: April Wahlin
Thirteen tales each with its own message and told by thirteen different voices or characters hoping that what they are offering will be accepted. What is in future depends on whether their tale accepted or rejected. Every one hundred years to the day the brother Voodoo convene and meet. Convening in the Vacant Realm with stories or tales of mythological characters, nautical trips, monsters, storybook characters that have been uniquely brought to life and even those filled with revenge and fear, author April Wahlin sets the bar really high for others to follow.
The air is thick with disturbances. The way is not clear for all of the brothers to attend this meeting as we hear each one’s tale, learn more about offering and get enveloped into a time period where people live forever, and one land the land of Ithiria and its fate depends on the words of so few. Within each day there is a special message or lesson learned by each character whose flaws are quite prevalent yet whose desire to please even greater. The Gingerbread Witch focuses on our famous witch from Hansel and Gretel whose end was met when the two children decided to shove her in the oven. However, this witch finds herself helping those that are lost be found, trying to make a living without eating her children but something happens and one slip of the tongue and her fate is sealed. Someone close to her is the bearer of the bad news, she needs to find another job and lay low until the sugary heat wears off. This is story one which is not rejected by those listening as we meet Medussa, the high priestess, Athena and Poseidon. The story is quite interesting but first an offering by the teller is given. If you are wondering what each storyteller offers that I won’t reveal. Medussa is quite vain, beautiful and is working as an assistant to the High Priestess. But, temptations come in many ways to the young and when the moon is full and the eclipse arrives all are told to look away in order to protect their eyes. However, Medussa seems spellbound and cannot resist what the moon has to offer and the beauty of the eclipse and looking into the eyes of the moon keeps her transfixed. When the High Priestess finds out what did she is chastised and warned against ever defying her again. But, that night a dream or you might say a voice takes over and she can no longer think about the warnings and falls prey to face, body and mind of Poseidon. Hoping not to be found out and that Athena would not learn about her betrayal she prays that he returns and that her transgression remains a secret. But, the High Priestess suspects that something is wrong and during the next eclipse something happens that alerts everyone that Athena is unhappy, revenge will be taken on anyone that caused her ire. When Medussa admits what happens the end result most readers know.
Exiled, disfigured and the beauty taken away, she is forced to live alone on an island until the end of time. What happens between her and Poseidon you have to learn for yourself and the punishment quite stiff teaches others what happens when rules are defied, loyalties betrayed and one young girl listens to her own mind and forgets what is expected by others.
Each story or tale carries its own message to readers whether young adult or adult. When Medussa does not adhere to what the High Priestess requests she learns many lessons at first, tries to conform but in the end follows her dreams and heart. When the punishment is inflicted although some might deem it harsh others might feel she get what she deserved. Athena went overboard and might be punished by Zeus but what about Medussa who finds herself living alone, exile, disfigured in many ways and her own company. Choices are made within each tale and the character’s own wisdom or lack of wisdom often determines his/her fate.
The Other Charming Boy is a great example of what happens when someone wants to get revenge or get even and the situation is ripe but the end result is not what the person expected. Dominio Charming loved to play jokes on his cousins and others so when Ashley decides it time to enact her plan she hopes it will teach him a lesson. But, timing, planning and execution are vital to gaining what you want. Read this story and find out who gets revenge. Who finds out that getting even might not always turn out the way you want and decide whose choices need to be reassessed. Once again it comes down to the choices you make.
There are four stories dealing with a special ship called the Perephone whose cargo will definitely surprise the reader and whose female Captain faces many obstacles along the way. What her mission is and what her cargo turns out to be will determine the outcome of each tale, her fate and much more. But, the author leaves us wondering as with each tale what will happen next as the fates decide which stories to accept and reject. As our narrators, each of the brothers relate their tales and Angus, our host introduces each storyteller, we learn at the end of the last tale that “the old oak is not in the habit of giving visions.” If the Oak does interfere it might mean it needs help or assistance. But, we are waiting to find out what will happen when everyone meets at the banquet the next night and all of the forces unite to find out the final outcome. My favorite is the Gingerbread Witch where the final outcome might not seem so grave yet our witch did make a bad choice and has to pay the consequences. What is the fate of Ithiria? What will happen when all the parties convene? We have to wait and see what are author writes as the final tale. Welcome to the Vacant Realm which if you look really close might not look any different that our world today. The discord within the realm has not come full force but at the end or each tale things just might change. The “elemental magic,” is not strong enough but we can sense that it’s about to change. Read these outstanding stories and deicide for yourself if revenge gets you what you want? If any of these characters made a different choice if the outcome would have been the same? If you were one of the “Watchers” of this land what would you bring as an offering? Visit the Vacant Realm, listen to the stories and decide: Wrath, Revenge, Hate, Greed, Betrayals and much more are the themes in this book: You decide which one wins!
Fran Lewis: reviewer
Let’s give this book: FIVE MORE TALES