The Speaker
by Andi O'Connor
Purple Sun Press

"Irewen glared into the darkness, hoping that wherever Elthad was, he'd notice the fire burning in her eyes."

A well-written fantasy novel that takes place in a well-realized fantasy world, O'Connor has created a saga to entertain readers of all ages. With Book Two in the Vaelinel Trilogy, the fate of Irewen remains in jeopardy after losing her father in book one. Trying to find safe passage she reluctantly takes refuge with the dead who precariously agree to keep her safe and help her find her way to the Light Elves. But even the Spirit World isn't safe from the Drulaack. Meanwhile, her cousin Elthad serves as a host to the dark forces that threaten her safety.

However, The Speaker does more than just transport its readers to another realm. It reveals the deeper issues of its characters and by extension ourselves. The struggle to remain true to oneself in the face of power and corruption plays out in the characters Elthad and Halthed as they are tormented and taken over by the dark forces of The Corrupter. Likewise, the fear and insecurities depicted in Irewen and Laegon illustrate those same qualities and emotions all of humanity faces at one time or another. The burden of the responsibilities placed on Irewen mirror the responsibilities each person must respond to and choose to fulfill.

In addition to psychological themes, the novel also explores feminism through its heroic protagonist, Irewen. For only through her strength and abilities does the world have any hope of defeating The Corruptor. The characters and themes unite beautifully in a fantastical world made real with vivid detail and excellent story telling. This is a book that will both delight its readers and make them feel the struggles and emotions of its characters so similar to their own.

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