Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review of Claralice Wolf's Prynne's Island

It's an experiment. Can a family, or a group of people set up a society based on love and mutual respect, in which all are treated justly as equals? Can such a society carry on with its original vision for generation after generation?

It’s worth a try, anyway. Claralice Wolf has written her heart out with this one. The story begins with a bazaar character, "the Red Prophet", who comes into the town of Verden. He's actually a clown, something of a pied piper. Once he has everyone's attention, he begins his prophecy, saying things one wishes would be proclaimed in any centre of power today.

Then, he gives Adam Prynne, a mere boy, his mandate.

Adam doesn't think like everyone else. He asks all the wrong questions. He says things people don't want mentioned. He rocks the boat. It's with a sigh of relief that they see him depart for an island far far away, over the mountains. The island was given to him by the king in return for befriending his sickly son. The prince fit in the same groove as Adam, so much so, one wishes he could have survived to become king -- but that would have been too good to be true.

The island is a very special one. Adam, his wife Zoe, and their two sons begin their new life. They are joined by other like thinking individuals, begin the struggle to make their paradise come true.

The human factor is authentic. Things don't happen automatically. Relationships take work from beginning to end. Adam and Zoe learn much, sometimes the hard way, but they make a solid beginning. The vision, the prophecy of the Red Prophet, important events, subsequent prophesies and light from above, are all written in a special Book.

Though the story lasts for seven generations, Claralice has skilfully woven all the lives into a common thread. We see each stage of the island's history through those lives, as the community grows from an extended family into a large town. The Red Prophet's words echo throughout the narrative, as various ones recall them. They are a warning, sometimes unheeded by those who most need to listen, and sometimes an encouragement. The unicorns also speak, but only certain people have the ability to hear them.

As the story comes to a climax, we see who are the true successors of Adam Prynne, and who only think they are. How does the vision survive? Does it end in a tragedy? For some, perhaps, but for others, it's a new beginning. Though it's a fantasy, it's a very true to life picture of the war between divine light and human nature.

Check out some more about the book, and about the author at

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