Review: Zarena by Rebecca Ryals Russell

Zarena by Rebecca Ryals Russell
Series: Stardust Warriors,#1
Release Date: July 25, 2011
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Source: author for review

When 14-year old Zarena wakes in someone else’s bed and hears voices in her head, she’s understandably terrified. So imagine her reaction when she steps out of the sleeping quarters into a magnificent Great Hall filled with priceless carvings, beautiful frescoes, and translucent skinned beings in pastel robes. It doesn’t take long for her to find out she has somehow traveled overnight across the Megaverse to the home of a holy order called the Conscientia. Here she is to train to fulfill her destiny. Her mentor tells her about the Prophecy of Solsyl and her role as leader of the Vigorios, children demon slayers. But no one knows that her first taste of evil is only one new friendship away.

Review: Here’s the newest series by Rebecca Russell, intended for middle grades (5-8). I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it but was pulled into Zarena’s world from the very beginning!

When she wakes up in the home of the Conscientia, she’s confused. Where is she? Why her? Why now? From the very first time she pulls open the door and we see the world she has entered, the descriptions are vivid and take you there. When Zarena’s questions start being answered by various mentors, you begin to realize that she is on a quest that will include other kid warriors she has yet to meet. Throughout most of this story, she is being prepared to fulfill her destiny and learning the skills she will need to be successful. Zarena’s mentors all have special skills and play important roles in teaching her from the unusual librarian to the highly skilled defense master. The world that Russell has created is fascinating and I still feel like if I close my eyes I can be there with Zarena. It’s such a tranquil place. Yet, evil lurks in this place of peace, in the form of a friend. Lonely and trying to find her way, Zarena befriends a mermaid that isn’t all that she seems.

At this time, the author is preparing a glossary/listing of all the characters for her website/webpage, as well as creating a timeline so as readers read the book they can refer to it. I look forward to reading about Zarena’s journey as she finds the other warriors and defends good in the epic battle of good vs. evil!

Quote: “Audox nodded and found the appropriate texts. She became so caught up in her reading, she missed lunch and never noticed. But one thing was abundantly clear. Philodor had told the truth about everything. She wasn’t sure if she was happy or sad about that. But she did know this much. Her life would never be the same.” Page 54.

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