The Tethered World, A Review

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About The Tethered World (from Amazon):

“Normal” means different things to different people. For sixteen-year-old Sadie Larcen, family dynamics look a little different than most. Parents with oddball occupations? Normal. Five homeschooled siblings—one with autism? Normal.

Police knocking on the door and parents gone missing? Definitely not normal!

When Sadie uncovers the reasons behind her parents’ disappearance and the truth about her heritage, she despairs of ever feeling normal again. Especially when she learns that her mother’s interest in Bigfoot, Dwarves, and other lore extends beyond her popular blog. Sadie’s family has been entrusted with keeping the secrets of the Tethered World—home to creatures that once roamed the Garden of Eden.

Sadie and her siblings must venture into this land to rescue their parents. Stepping out of reality and into a world she never knew existed is a journey Sadie fears and resents. But she chooses to risk all to save her family.

She’s just not sure she will survive in the process.

About Heather L. L. Fitzgerald:

Heather Fitzgerald grew up in Orchards, Washington (considered part of Vancouver). She loved creative writing and loathed math. In third grade she began her first book, Rubber Bands and Mashed Bananas, pounding it out on an old-fashioned typewriter. With no typing skills or knowledge of white-out, Heather eventually gave up.

Though she married and settled down in Texas, “write a book” remained on her bucket list. Family life included homeschooling four children, one with autism. A favorite pastime was reading adventures with the kids. After they read through The Chronicles of Narnia, Heather’s desire to write became too powerful to ignore.

She began to blog and work on story ideas. When author Susan K. Marlow read Heather’s review of her book, Trouble with Treasure, she contacted Heather and asked, “Are you a writer?” By God’s grace, Susan saw something in Heather’s writing and began to mentor her.

Heather joined North Texas Christian Writers and attended writing workshops. A prompt from Susan sparked Heather’s original ideas for The Tethered World. This book is the result of six years of writing and a gazillion edits (with equal parts coffee). Though the novel is YA Fantasy, Heather prefers to call it Family Fantasy. She hopes families will read it aloud and enjoy the adventure together.

You can connect with Heather on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

My Review:

I give The Tethered World by Heather L. L. Fitzgerald 4 out of 5 stars.

In her debut novel, Fitzgerald has created a vivid world, diverse cast of characters, and an adventure on par with The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and Redwall.

What you see on the cover is just a small glimpse of the world Fitzgerald has brought to life in The Tethered World: giant mushrooms, dark tunnels, snake branches, and many, many others occupy the pages of the story. What intrigued me most, though, was the concept: a world within our own, linked to our own since the Fall. Because of its connection, the Tethered World groans along with ours without needing to resort to allegory. Whether intended on the author’s part or not, I was reminded that human sin created total bondage for all creation, that sin does not occur in a vacuum.

When I say the characters are diverse, I don’t just mean that there is a variety of creatures in The Tethered World, though that’s certainly true. There are leprechauns, gnomes, dwarves, Nephilim, yetis, ogres, and fairies, but beyond that, the human characters were unique. Being a former homeschooler, I loved that Sadie and her siblings were homeschooled and had that special brand of homeschool humor (there was a joke about chain male that had me laughing longer than was probably reasonable). One of Sadie’s brothers has autism, and her great-aunt is afflicted with dementia, and those with loved ones in either condition will find the characters beautifully and relatably written. I would love to see more diversity like this in speculative fiction.

Sadie is not your typical brave heroine, and spends most of the adventure wishing she was back home. I didn’t particularly identify with her, but I liked this aspect about her – it made her authentic and gave opportunity for character growth.

Sophie, though – Sophie is my soul sister. There was a moment when a character quipped, “Hay is for houses,” I thought, I think the saying is ‘Hay is for horses.’ Maybe it’s a typo? Sophie echoed my sentiments just moments later, minus the part about the typo. I am known as the know-it-all in my family, too. I’ve gotten so much better over the years, but I mean, sometimes a girl just can’t help it, so I adored Sophie.

The story is packed with action throughout, and it makes for an exciting read. There were many moments when I caught myself holding my breath, wondering how the Larcens were going to make it out of this scrape or that. It’s not all serious, though: there is plenty of comic relief to offset the tense moments.

That being said, this is a bit of a journey story, and action girl that I am, I had a bit of trouble with the traveling portions. I know they’re necessary – unless you’re J. K. Rowling and then, disapparation – but even in my favorite stories – The Lord of the Rings, for example – I have a hard time with them.

I also want to thank Fitzgerald for not ending on a cliffhanger – that is my pet peeve in serial fiction, and I loved that it was resolved, and yet, you know there’s going to be more.

I highly recommend The Tethered World for fans of Tolkien, Lewis, and Jacques. It’s a fun, clean adventure that will appeal to families everywhere.

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