Book Review: ‘Journey to Aviad’ by Allison D. Reid

I’ve been looking high and low for fantasy fiction that’s suitable for Christians and their children–stories that edify, rather than wallow in the mire of a dying culture.

Well, how about that! I’ve found one.

Alison D. Reid’s Journey to Aviad first won me over with its near-total absence of fantasy cliches. No Invincible Female Warrior doing jumpin’, spinnin’ kicks. No know-it-all Elves. No little 11-year-old girls wiping up the floor with grown men.

Even better: no writing “ya” for “you,” and no insertion of annoying Americanisms like “you guys,” “okay,” and “yeah.”

You may counter that it’s a fantasy set in a medieval-type world, which is in itself a cliche. I grant the point. But given that one of the main purposes of any fantasy is to aid and abet the reader in a temporary escape from the world of here and now, it’s not surprising to see so much of it set in something like the Middle Ages.

But best of all, Allison Reid’s story honors God and seeks to serve Him. Here, His name is “Aviad”: but we can recognize Him as the God who reveals Himself to us in the Bible.

Indeed, Ms. Reid boldly goes so far as to identify the God of her imaginary world as a Holy Trinity. Who else has dared to tackle this concept? She discusses it coherently, too.

I’ll try to steer clear of spoilers, but I do want to mention a couple of highlights.

*The heart-cry of a brave young warrior, a servant of God, who is losing his faith: “The fingers of evil reach far, and deep. I can see their workings all too readily. The dark minions call out, and they are answered and aided. Every day they grow in number and strength. Those of us who can see through the darkness, those of us who are willing to stand against it–who answers when we call out in desperation? The most righteous people I have known… where are they now? What help has come to them?”

Which of us has not felt this very thing?

*An attack on a nearly defenseless little town by monstrous Trolls–very nicely done, and quite exciting.

*An interesting exploration of the concept of “the right kind of prayer.”

Because Journey to Aviad is so clearly the first book of a series, the ending of the story is not really an ending. It leaves you hanging. I wanted to keep on reading, but Ms. Reid has not yet finished writing the sequel.

The book has a few flaws, which I mention only in a spirit of constructive criticism. Actually, there’s nothing wrong with it that ordinary editing couldn’t fix. But Journey is self-published, which also means self-edited: and we are none of us the best editors of our own work.

So the pace could stand some picking-up, and characters ought not to waste time telling each other about things the reader already knows. (Don’t go into “Here’s what happened to me…” when the reader has already seen what happened.) And if the writer is trying to describe a complicated situation, there has to be a better way of doing it than allowing a princess to discourse about it to some common folk whom she’s only just met. Don’t turn any of your characters into talking heads.

But the flaws could all be fixed without major rewriting. And again, as a committed booster of plain English, I would not let my characters say “nay” when a simple “no” would do.

Journey to Aviad is available from in both paperback and Kindle formats. I am glad I read it, and I look forward to the sequel.