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Alison Henry and the Creatures of Torone Review by Megan Russell

C.J. Darlington
P.O. Box 129
Hopeland, PA 17533

Alison Henry and the Creatures of Torone is a children’s fantasy book written by C.J. Darlington. The book is just over 300 pages long with 51 short chapters. The cover of the book is beautifully illustrated with a young girl walking beside a huge buck, carrying a bow made from antlers. The cover instantly draws you to the book, and the storyline keeps you reading.

Alison is a young girl whose father left with the army for two years. Her Aunt Maggie moves into their cabin to take care of Alison since her mother has died. Alison is somewhat of a “misfit” among her peers – she doesn’t dress or act like they do. She prefers to read books or wander in the woods.

One afternoon, she is in the woods and notices that a few teenage boys are chasing a huge buck, trying to kill it. She can’t stand to see the beautiful deer killed just for the boy’s entertainment, so she successfully stops them from shooting it. However, the boys are furious. The leader of the boys, Bo, stabs Alison in the leg with a knife. Bo seems as if he will harm Alison even more, until the same buck that Alison saved rescues her from the boys. The buck scares the boys off, and Alison realizes that she can hear the deer talking – she understands what he is saying. The deer tells her she is the “Interpreter” that he has been searching for. He takes her to the land of Torone, which is accessed through a hole in an oak tree.

In the land of Torone, animals could communicate with humans in the past. Now, however, there is an evil ruler on the throne. He has banished the animals and has his own monsters, called kozas, that he uses as his army. The rightful heir to the throne is a young woman named Ciara. The evil ruler, Ronan, is Ciara’s stepfather. Her mother died, and Ronan tried to kill Ciara, too. She is hiding in the woods, where Alison finds her. Together, with the help of the animals, Ciara and Alison work to overthrow Ronan and put Ciara, the rightful heir, on the throne. When Ciara is injured, Alison brings her back to her world, but the story stops there. The reader is left wondering what happens next – maybe there will be a sequel. 

Alison Henry and the Creatures of Torone is an exciting book! There are plenty of fights, battle scenes, and close calls. There is no questionable content at all in this book – no romantic scenes, swear words, or off-color jokes. The book mentions God several times, giving the impression that Alison is a Christian, but she doesn’t talk much about it. Alison learns bravery, courage and loyalty and finds true friends in this book.

I recommend this book for ages 9 and up, due to the fighting and death scenes. If you have a sensitive child, you may want to pre-read. It would make a great family read-aloud!

-Review by Megan Russell, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, November, 2017