Book Review – Isle of Wysteria: Make Like a Tree and Leaf by Aaron Lee Yeager
I am beginning to suspect that the most original and enjoyable new authors are self-published. This book is a good example. Yeager’s writing is lighthearted, his characters are quirky and enjoyable, and his magic system is imaginative. This character driven fantasy is unlike most I have seen recently, although parts of it remind me a bit of Terry Pratchett’s young adult books about Tiffany Aching. This isn’t specifically a Young Adult book, though. I would put it in the category of being suitable for all ages.
On the world in which Wysteria resides, there are a number of island nations, each with its own race and magic. Wysteria commands plant magic. The plants on this planet, however, are not like those of Earth. In this fantasy world, the plants have various levels of awareness, with trees being the most sentient, and they have a special symbiotic relationship with the women of Wysteria. The relatively short-lived men of this island do not share this ability. They have little social status and seem to be regarded as property. This does not mean they are uninteresting. Two male Wysterians play a major role in this book. One is typical of his race, a bony-shouldered, domestic engineer by the name of Alder. He plays the unlikely role of a true hero. The other is a soldier named Privet. He’s the opposite of Alder in many ways, but he also has admirable traits and some emotional depth.
They are not the main characters, though. That role belongs to the Wysterian princess Athel. Like her two male countrymen, she is not content with the role her society has placed on her, and she has chosen to take a short hiatus by joining the Federal Navy, a force of magically levitated airships supported by all nations. Its mission is to protect the islands from sky pirates and similar threats.
The story follows Athel’s adventures as a crewmember on the Dreadnaught, a misnamed naval vessel with an atypical captain and a small crew of quirky characters. In their battle against pirate guilds, they stumble upon an implied threat that may be greater than any pirates and which may be the reason that Athel’s mother has decided to break Wysteria away from the Federation. This, I assume, will be the story of a following book.
I enjoyed reading Isle of Wysteria. The characters are charming, the setting is creative, and the prose is well above average. I recommend this story for readers who enjoy lighthearted books with goodhearted characters.