Higher Diversified Education **** 4 stars Review by Rox Burkey
Author Bryant Reil creates a young elf coming of age fantasy. Kyla is the primary protagonist, who embarks on university learning at Equinox to find her lifework. The diverse university offers courses to all sorts of creatures, including nymphs, dryads, elves, demons, dwarfs, air spirits, and, my favorite being, earth elementals.
Kyla is an adventuresome, impulsive, and reckless elf who is anxious about life in general. Her end goal is not to follow in her father’s footsteps. Kyla views herself as someone fun to know and a good friend, yet that is not how she is viewed by others. Her goal is to fit in, and yet that is her biggest challenge.
Lug, the earth elemental, has a sensitive side. The author developed this character quickly and provided relatable attributes. Lug’s ability to trust a new relationship is positive until Kyla doesn’t support the budding friendship when a bully is introduced.
Kyla is ill-prepared for school. She samples various courses that, for one reason or another, do not fit her abilities. With each class, she learns something about what she doesn’t want to do. Aura, Kyla’s roommate, is an air spirit who controls the wind.
The variety of characters and subplots makes this fantasy suitable for the younger crowd. Imagination is the focus of this story, with a correlation for explaining the world’s natural occurrences. Aura, the air spirit learning to control the wind, explains the shifts in wind currents and direction. The creatures at the center of the earth, where Kyla first met Lug, details the job of the earth’s rotation.
Of particular note is the ego’s involved with each of the characters. Those who are the best in one category or another have no issues touting their abilities. Kyla tries nearly everything, even when worried about failing. She picks herself up and keeps trying different things. With a passion for rocks that hold memories of events, Kyla leads with her heart. Her growth throughout the story provides inspiration for younger readers.
There are many characters in this story. Listening to the narration, the various voices were not differentiated enough to truly engage. There are no real problems with the quality of the audible itself, but the personality of the story was not enhanced by Merphy Napier’s performance. I didn’t feel the energy of the words as much as I would have preferred. It is a technically sound audible listen. With more vital character voices and emphasis on the different scenes, fantastic could have been achieved.
I can recommend this magical story to the younger crowd and young at heart.
About the author
Bryant Reil was born and raised in southern Alberta, Canada. He attended BYU – Provo and subsequently worked as an ESL Instructor for several years at a private school in Calgary. A stint in the Canadian Federal Government bureaucracy led him to reside in Kelowna, BC.
After years Bryant left to pursue a Master’s degree in Integrated Studies. Having completed many unpublished writing projects over the years, he finally decided to self-publish his first book ‘Elf Mastery’ online.
About the Narrator-Merphy Napier
Merphy is first and foremost a YouTube creator. She supports authors with reviews and critiques. She has completed several audibles across multiple genres. Merphy closely works with authors to review each and collaborate to
give feedback along the way. She also offers working with authors over voice messaging on Voxer or Instagram if they’d like to help me with pronunciations/etc (this is often used for Fantasy and Sci Fi novels).