Crystal Vision, by Larry Rodness
How are you keeping?
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing a wonderful fantasy novel, Crystal Vision, by Larry Rodness.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
Crystal Vision is mainly set in the modern day, with references to past eras.
Fourteen year old Jeremy McKee frequents The Ages Olde Work Shoppe, where mysterious owner Ariella hides an ancient secret. One day, she gives Jeremy a peculiar looking coin. Soon after, he encounters a strange old man (Armand) who shows him a vision by placing a special crystal to his forehead. Eventually, Jeremy also encounters a dark, demonic creature, who is after Ariella.
Somehow, Ariella and Jeremy’s ancestor’s pasts are connected. Now, Jeremy and his allies must work together to bring down the demonic entity which is willing to do anything to get what it wants, even going as far as to resurrect an ancient plague.
Throughout the story, six leading characters caught my attention and had – in my opinion – the most impact on the turn of events.
Fourteen year old Jeremy McKee has recently been struggling due to his father having separated from his mother and moved out of the family home. As such, Jeremy seeks an escape from his real life in the form of old school fantasy table-top games. While Jeremy initially appeared to be childish in some ways, over the course of the story, he proves himself to be curious, courageous, and highly honourable, doing all he could to try and help the woman he adored. I found it easy to relate to Jeremy, per his fantasy-related interests, and per his struggles with his broken family arrangement. As such, it was relatively easy to root for him to succeed in all his endeavours.
Jeremy’s father, Brian McKee runs an antique store known as McKee and Sons, which has been passed down through four generations of their family. Although business has not been going too well lately, Brian is proud of his ancestry and his store. Although often preoccupied with his work, Brian does his best to be a good father, although it was his work which led to the subsequent fallout of his marriage. At best, Brian has a tenuous relationship with his own father, whose debt he hopes to pay off. As the story progressed, we see Brian go from being somewhat of a coward who runs away from his problems, to a man who is willing to risk his very life for a promise made by his ancestors centuries ago.
Ariella Lewelland, the owner of The Ages Olde Work Shoppe first appeared as a charming and cheerful young woman, looking to be in her early twenties. She showed herself to be helpful and compassionate, looking after the young teenagers who frequented her store to relax and game. There was also an air of mystery about her character: we honestly don’t learn much about her until far later in the story. I found myself repeatedly wondering what her past had been like and if she hid any particular struggles which she refused to show to the outside world. Over time, I learned that – for various reasons – she had to harden herself to the world to survive, something which I found very relatable. With all Ariella has endured, she made for a highly admirable character, whose welfare I came to care a great deal about.
Next, we have Stony, a tough looking street youth whose six foot plus frame would be intimidating to most. He is referred to by Ariella as ‘The Overlord,’ a title which immediately demands respect and furthers his sense of intimidation over others. Stony seemed overly cocky and far too sure of himself, both traits which I find unpleasant to be around. However, despite all of his faults- and there are many- he was willing to protect Ariella at all costs. He seemed to be a man ‘out of sync’ with his time, as one of the characters later suggests: he looks for any battle to fight because that is his nature and what he had become accustomed to in the distant past. Overall, he wasn’t as bad as he is first made out to be. In fact, I eventually began to warm to him toward the end of the story.
Armand is first introduced to us as a mysterious old man selling crystals and gemstones. At first, Ariella appears to hate him, calling him ‘sorcerer.’ It is clear that Armand quickly takes an interest in Jeremy, as if he’s planning to train him to become a hero. As a character, Armand is far more noble than we are first led to believe. He acts as a peacekeeper of sorts between characters over time, diffusing tension wherever he can. I quickly came to like Armand, despite some of the character’s earlier misgivings about him.
Finally, we come to the demonic entity which stands as the story’s primary antagonist. The demon first appears with the horns of a goat and the ears of a donkey, appearing at random moments to antagonise Ariella in particular. However, over time, the demon is also sneaky and takes on different forms in order to trick the would-be heroes of the story. Said demon stalks Ariella and other key characters throughout the story, trying to maim them, or otherwise wreck their lives. This demon proves to be cruel, bloodthirsty, and ultimately, relentless in his pursuit of what he believes to be rightfully his.
There were many positive aspects to this story, which I have included in a handy bulleted list below:
- The story opens to an immediately atmospheric and gripping scene with the funeral of an important young noble-woman: this scene made me wonder who she was and how she died, drawing me into the story at large.
- The shifting third-person point of views between fourteen year old Jeremy, his father Brian, and Ariella widened the overall scope of the story, revealing their different problems and motivations in life.
- The author steadily revealed more of Ariella’s past life through flashbacks/interludes, providing additional context to the overall story, as seen through unique ‘crystal visions,’ after which the story is named.
- I liked how the tension built up gradually, with the severity of the character’s problems escalating more and more, making it hard to put the book down for long.
- The story was intriguing throughout and the author wrapped it up nicely toward the end, resolving all issues in a satisfactory way.
Throughout the story, I picked up on several memorable quotes which had a profound effect on me. There were so many good ones to choose from, but in the end, I managed to settle on the following six.
1) ‘Sometimes, problems can affect a relationship just like a bug or a sickness- you have to identify the issues first- both partners need to commit to fixing them.’
2) ‘And it’s part of life’s journey one must make to come to one’s own decision- my advice to you- go out into the world, learn, and seek your own answers.’
3) ‘A hero is one who dedicates himself to do the right thing, which sometimes goes against what’s safe or convenient, or what his friends think.’
4) ‘We’re born to believe- it’s disbelief we’re taught.’
5) ‘Whatever you may or may not believe doesn’t alter the truth. Ultimately, the one you have to trust is yourself.’
6) ‘The only way to defeat the thing is to learn more about it.’
Overall, Crystal Vision was a wonderful, magical story about an old Scottish family who had yet to keep a centuries old promise. Themes of ancestry, the supernatural, and the power of belief featured heavily throughout.
My Rating: 5 stars. I honestly couldn’t put this book down. I loved every single moment.
Recommended to: lovers of young adult novels, with a mix of fantasy, the supernatural, and history blended in.
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