Book One: This Shrinking World
300 years ago, in a nameless world, a prophecy passed unfulfilled. A secret society that formed to prevent its occurrence believed it was their doing, while the secret society created to ensure that the prophecy came to pass wasn't certain it had been stopped at all. Eventually, along with the mythology of time prior to the great Lizard Queen’s expansion of this world, the prophecy of Lacáruna fell into legend.
Split among three nations, nine ancient books hold the key to this world's creation but no one has the ability to read them. And many have come to believe the world is shrinking. The indications are there—nations' leaders falling ill, swamps drying, militaries gathering—that is, if those signs are being interpreted correctly. No one knows because the prophesied Lacáruna, a female from another realm and the only being who can read the Lizard Queen's language, never arrived.
What they don't realize is that Amy Darlidale is just a tad late.
Taking a break from a stressful workweek, Amy, recently divorced CEO, drives out to her desert getaway. While on a morning jog she crosses paths with an orange lizard and, on a whim, chases it into a field. Suddenly, she finds herself under a starless sky confronted by oddly marked and strangely colored people who claim she's there to rescue the world from evil’s grasp and expand it once again. But not everyone wants that to happen so there's a price on her head.
This is far from the relaxing weekend Amy had intended.
I was “supposed” to write a review of the entire volume one for this post, but this review is just for book one, This Shrinking World. You see, I thought this was going to be a trilogy but each volume has three full books included… not novellas, but full length, regular sized novels. Fine, I’m a great speed reader. I can handle it, right? Nope. The problem is that these books are good. I wanted to really delve into it and not just skim. So, I only ended up finishing one by the deadline! I absolutely love epic stories, so knowing that I have eight more books to read is actually a huge plus.
The main character in the Lizard Queen series is a female, which is what I prefer. However, I’m always hesitant to read a female main character when the author is a guy. A lot of times, the author gets a lot of things wrong and I ended up cringing. Not so with this book, H.L. Cherryholmes does a fantastic job, I never once had a problem with how he wrote Amy. If you’re looking for a strong, likable female protagonist who isn’t a teenager or close to it (most of them seem to be lately), you want to read this!
Instead of going on to book two, I really want to just re-read this one first. This book is deep, with stunning detail and many layers. It’s so well written and I would really recommend this to everyone.
This Shrinking World introduces the reader to an intriguing new world, one with a rather unique connection to our own. Amy, a successful CEO on the eve of her 40th birthday, has been seeing and experiencing some odd things and not all of them are in her head. Sure, perhaps the shadowy figure in her room could be from that place between waking and dreaming, but what about the orange lizard that scampers across her office and elsewhere? Those might be in her head, but her assistant had no trouble seeing the golden bangle. On a whim, she decides to run off to her hometown for a bit of rest. And that’s when the already odd things take an even weirder turn.
I really enjoyed this story, particularly the way the parallel world is revealed, slowly and and through Amy’s eyes. No info dumps here. I also liked the process of figuring out just how the world is connected to ours, and how its people came to be, the origin story. I’m still not exactly sure, but I have plenty of theories. I’m curious to find out which of them, if any, are correct in the later books. There’s also a hint of romance, but just a hint. Nothing racy.
It was also refreshing to find a fantasy world where the people speak variations of Spanish mixed with English, rather than some fictional language that’s nearly impossible to pronounce. That the setting is likely parallel to Southern California is supremely interesting to me. Thin boundaries, and all that. It made me glad that I’ve been brushing up on my Spanish.
On the other hand, the story gets a little caught up in the tedium at times: grooming, traveling, changing clothes, eating. Still, each of these things reveal a little about the people, the history or the setting, it’s just not quite as action packed as some might like it to be. I also found the dialog between Amy and her earliest companions a little off at first. I didn’t care for how Amy reacted to her rescuers, particularly when they were trying to sneak her away to safety. Finally, it’s only fair to say that this is one hundred percent meant to be read as a series. It ends with much to be resolved and many questions yet to be answered. Not exactly a cliffhanger, more of an intermission.
Overall, I liked this book. It might be a good bet for those who enjoy fantasy that doesn’t reveal a whole lot up front, particularly for those who like trying to figure things out from clues and context. I think people who like stories that feature alternate realities and parallel worlds would also dig this.
Amy Darlidale is looking for a quiet weekend after a stressful week. Instead, as she takes off after an orange lizard she spots on a morning jog, she finds herself transported into another world, a world where there are no stars and the moon is always full.
Amy is a recently divorced CEO who is extremely smart and totally driven. She is always in control, but now, she is in a world she doesn’t understand at all. She is lucky to be found by those who want her to fulfill an ancient prophecy, but soon she and her new friends are being pursued by those who will stop at nothing to keep that from happening.
This novel is the first in a planned nine part series, and as such, it does an excellent job of setting up the entire world. I was amazed at the depth of the details, from geography to flora and fauna which are radically different from anything Amy has ever experienced, to the social and religious beliefs of the land.
I found the language of the land, the variety of names, to be a hindrance to my keeping everything in order. Amy says that many of the words seem to be a form of Spanish, and that may be the case, but unfortunately, I know no Spanish, so I found that the multitude of new terms for everything in this world tangled me in a bewildering maze. While I’m sure my bewilderment matched Amy’s, I still found them daunting, and they frequently pulled me out of the story.
The plot has a number of exciting and tense scenes, with near escapes, and Amy is lucky to find true believers to help her, even if she herself doesn’t think she can fulfill a prophesy. There is also a lot of history that needs to be taught to Amy (and the reader) so that she can fully understand this world, and I was amazed at the depth of the descriptions. Truly this novel has set up a fantastic and wondrous world filled with new adventures.
Fantasy lovers who are looking for a new, rich, world to explore are sure to find that in The Lizard Queen.