by Dale Parry
Litprime Solutions

"His music blended with the music of the spheres and vibrated throughout the castle. The moonlight brightened and filled the great room with sparkling liquid light."

This whimsical parable begins with an orphan boy named Coal who dreams of a mysterious musical instrument. When he awakes, he carves it from a tree and starts to play. At first, it makes the most terrible sounds, but magic begins to stir and calls strange creatures from deep under the earth as his playing improves. The two elves, Shreebee and Rodo, fascinated by the music, strike a deal with Coal. He will teach them to play wonderful music, and they will serve him until the end of his days and build him a great castle.

When King Coal dies, the elder elves depart for their home realm, but Dondobee, their son and the last of the Leolian Elves, agrees to stay and serve the new masters of the castle as long as they can solve his riddles. Unfortunately, Prince Paul and his wife, Princess Ponella, are not nearly so kind and wise as King Coal and his queen had been. They must learn a very hard and long lesson before they are deserving of Dondobee's magic.

Undoubtedly inspired by traditional European fables, Dondobee's narrative hits familiar fairy tale notes but is gentler and kinder than a Grimm's fairy tale. The titular elf's riddles are reminiscent of those that Gollum tells in Tolkien's The Hobbit. They are fun to solve and should not prove to be too hard for younger readers. The author clearly enjoys language and employs many a playful turn of phrase, some with a contemporary twist, for a refreshing genre tweak. Both children and the young at heart will enjoy being swept away by this simple tale of magic and morals.

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