Tesch tells us that on a November morning a mysterious beach was found:
Fifteen-Year-old Maya and her Fourteen-Year-old brother Joey noticed a gap in the fence of a ‘Government Owned Property’ (page 1).
I could spend the entire book pointing out annoying things like this, such as why fourteen and year are both capitalized, but old is not, or why government owned property is capitalized and has quotation marks around it, but that wouldn’t really be very funny. Instead, you’ll just have to remember that this is ongoing throughout the book, as will be evidenced by the drink count, and pity me for what I’m going through.
Blah blah, they find a cave to the ‘world between the worlds’ which gives me a strong Magician’s Nephew vibe, which leads into the ‘Land of Maradonia’. Great. I don’t know why Tesch is spoiling the book in the preface, considering the story begins before Maya and Joey have actually found their way to Maradonia.
Apparently a feast is being prepared at the palace of a chap named Apollyon, who’s the King of an Evil Empire. In quotation marks. So one sentence in, we have a King of an Empire, that is a named Evil, with unnecessary Capitalized Letters and quotation marks. This is going to be ridiculously easy to mock.
There’s a brief mention of a chick named Arabella, who’s an underworld spy. This sounds vaguely interesting but isn’t elaborated on by Tesch.
Annoyingly, the paragraphs aren’t defined by indentation, like real books, but by a line break between some of them. But not all of them. Which, I must admit, is a pretty clever way to pad the size of your book. Quick math: There’s about three of these line breaks per page, and there’s 810 pages in this brick. At 30 lines of text per page, that comes out to an extra 81 pages on this book that don’t really deserve to be there, and that’s not counting the enormous font size used throughout the book.
Tesch names a bunch of random people that I don’t care about and won’t remember the names of. They’re sitting at a table. Some dwarfs teleport into the room, arriving in midair, and open the doors. King Apollyon walks in, has a seat, and begins his speech. He introduces a group of ravens as his guests of honor, which makes Arabella feel insulted because she isn’t mentioned, along with some extraneous ellipses. Apollyon says that everyone at the table is welcome to speak freely and openly. He elaborates that his son recently lost a battle to ‘those kids’, Maya and Joey, who were leading an army of teenagers. The guests are stunned and demand to know how this is possible. So Apollyon elaborates further:
Abaddon tried to do his best to destroy the enemy as did Gertrude, Lorris and Ceara also tried to eliminate the troops of the enemy with their wall of fire, waves of fire, walls of total darkness and with the glowing heat cushion of burning snowflakes! (page 4).
- ‘Tried to do his best’? That sort of effort deserves a Force-strangulation.
- Fantasy world. We have Lorris. Appropriately fantasy. Ceara. Likewise. And then Gertrude, which doesn’t even exist nowadays. Honestly, I haven’t even met many people who are on Social Security who are named Gertrude.
- I’m guessing there’s a difference between a wall of fire and a wave of fire, but I don’t see why a king would bother to differentiate between the two in a speech. I also have no idea what the hell a glowing heat cushion of burning snowflakes is. Mostly because snowflakes can’t burn, because water doesn’t burn. I’m guessing Tesch isn’t a fan of science. Or she is a fan of handwaving something because of magic.
Apollyon talks about how the spirits came back from their ‘spy trip’ and heard the words ‘Pool of Blood’. This led him to the understanding in his mind that a pool of blood exists. That’s deep. And by deep, I mean deep in a philosophical and sarcastic sense, not physically deep. Although it probably is physically deep as well, because Apollyon mentions some random king getting pissed off and chucking a mountain and a castle into the lake. That’s very impressive, and is a slight indication that Tesch’s magic system may be overpowered.
Apparently the ruler of Maradonia, a chap named King Astrodoulos, sent his troops and Maya and Joey to this lake. Because apparently after you dive in the lake, you’re untouchable by the powers. I assume this means that magic cannot affect you. I do wonder why Apollyon hasn’t sent all of his own troops to take a dip as well. But instead, Apollyon explains how when the mountain and the castle was thrown into the lake, it gave the lake the power to make people who jump in untouchable by the powers. In essence, exactly what he just said.
Not kidding. Apollyon repeats himself, almost word-for-word, what he just said the previous paragraph. For no discernable reason.
One of Apollyon’s sons says that this is very depressing news, which is a bit of an understatement, and says that they’ll just have to live with it. But then another leader, Remmilos, jumps up and starts yelling and says that perhaps they need a change in leadership. Apollyon is enraged. He demonstrates this rage by closing his eyes and putting his hands on the table. That doesn’t sound very enraged. But then he opens his eyes and has glowing fireballs in his hands. One of the teleporting dwarfs tells Remmilos that he has no right to criticize Apollyon. Remmilos points out, correctly, that Apollyon said everyone could speak freely and openly at the beginning of the meeting. Apollyon hits him with the fireball and fries him into a pile of ashes, which the dwarfs clean up and then teleport away. I’m guessing that this is our ‘Subtle Clue’ that Apollyon is Evil. In case we didn’t realize this from the Author ‘Explicitly Stating’ that Apollyon is the king of the Evil Empire.
Some of the leaders there are a little pissed off, but Apollyon continues and says that there may be a way to eliminate these kids, even though they’re invincible. I’m guessing he doesn’t know what ‘invincible’ means. Also, I wasn’t aware they were invincible. Being immune to magic is one thing, being immune to a knife in the ribs is another.
Apollyon says that he’s going to tell them a secret. And the prologue ends.
Each chapter also has a picture along with it, and so we get our first image of Maya and Joey, and my god, it’s hideous. Maya’s eyes are too far apart, she has enormous horse lips, and Joey’s face seems to be made up entirely of his nose. Not an auspicious beginning.
Their mother wakes them up, saying that they don’t want to be late for school. Tesch begins to tell us facts about them. I’m not really surprised that she hasn’t learned how to show, not tell. We learn that Maya is excited to go to school, she’s tall, very beautiful, very shy, doesn’t make friends easily, stuff like that. I’m getting Mary Sue vibes already.
Maya thinks about popular Joey is. Apparently, at the last school, Joey was part of a nationwide painting poster-contest. Due to Joey’s elite painting skills, he’s received a number of letters from congressmen. I have to call bullshit on this one. I admit that it’s possible that someone who won a poster content might receive one letter from a congressman’s secretary with the congressman’s name signed at the bottom, but a bunch of them? Not likely. A horrifically phrased sentence later, we learn that supposedly, the school had a banquet in honor of Joey. Calling bullshit again. Apparently a senator came to the banquet to greet Joey in the name of the President and talking about how much potential Joey has to build fantasy bridges to different dimensions. Calling bullshit for the third time. This is probably some sort of ‘Subtle Foreshadowing’. Along with being something that would never happen in real life.
Then again, when I was 12 I wrote things that wouldn’t happen in real life. It was because I was naïve and wrote things that weren’t worthy of being published.
Apparently, Joey’s fame led to his picture appearing in dozens of newspapers and the school getting a new section in their library. I guess the point Tesch is trying to make is that Joey is Speshul and Maya is just very awkward. This is confirmed a few paragraphs later:
It took Maya several months to make a couple of new friends but she made also some enemies. One of them was ‘Alana Terence’! she was a member of the ‘Gothic Movement’ and she had a very rebellious spirit (page 11).
Really? Extra exclamation points, italics, and quotation marks? Even I wasn’t this dumb when I was twelve.
Although Maya had several problems, she was a highly unusual girl in many ways. She was a very spiritual and a very serious person. Soon after Maya was born, her grandmother was holding her in her arms and said, “This is indeed a very serious child!” (page 12).
I cannot picture a grandmother holding a newborn and proclaiming it serious without cracking up laughing, nor can I imagine why one would ever say that. I also don’t know why it’s unusual to be either spiritual or serious, there are plenty of people who fall into both categories and it’s not that uncommon.
When Maya was four years old she started painting huge oil paintings and worked with water colors. With eight years, she had her first exhibition in form of an article in the ‘National Journal of Art’ with an interview and six of her best pictures (page 12).
Or, in other words, Maya is Speshul as well. And I think that should be ‘at’ instead of ‘with’, and there should be a ‘the’ between ‘in’ and ‘form’. But that might just be me trying to follow some basic rules of the English language.
Maya can’t figure out why she hates the new school, except she feels like everyone hates her just for being there. Wow. So one chapter in, we have a girl who fits almost every cliché that Mary Sues are known for, a villain that fits almost every villain cliché, and an author who has no grasp of the English language. That takes some talent.