Galadria: Peter Huddleston & The Rites of Passage, Book 1, ISBN: 9780692227268, an e-book by Miguel Lopez De Leon.

Plot: Peter Huddleston is a young man growing up in a small town with a father and his second wife. He is a better than average high school student, liked by his classmates but prefers to spend time by himself and practicing with his boomerang. Everyone in town agrees that Peter is “peculiar”, probably as a result of his ‘loner’ preferences. He never feels that he really ‘belongs anywhere’, no doubt a sense arising in part from the fact that his father, after the untimely death of his beloved wife, spent little to no time with, and even seldom spoke to his son. At one time he had been a brilliant business man, but now spent most of his time in his favorite chair reading the news. He had remarried, however and his new wife, Gertrude, if not totally disliking the young lad, also practically ignored him. So, besides time alone, Peter enjoyed spending time with an older couple who owned the local candy shop and kept him supplied with their most delicious products. At the end of the school year Peter became involved in a series of unfortunate and misunderstood adventures resulting from a confrontation with the woman who owned the town’s furniture shop – a woman who was Gertrude’s best friend and insisted he call “Aunt Celeste”. As a result of Celeste’s overreaction and Gertrude’s siding with her, Peter was informed by his father that he must spend the summer with his dead mother’s sister, Aunt Gillian at the Willowbrook Manor. Peter is shocked because he never had been told that he even had an aunt – a fact never previously mentioned because his father actually knew little about Gillian and the two were not particularly friendly. With school’s end for the summer, Peter completed the three day drive with his father to arrive at Willowbrook Manor which sat in a mountain in otherwise rather barren terrain. Here he is met by the quite formal housekeeper and equally formal Montgomery, who will be his constant companion. He does not meet his Aunt until the next day when he discovers that she actually is the ruling monarch of the nearby country of Galadria. She offers him a choice and it is from this moment on that Peter, accepting the enormous offer, embarks upon totally life changing activity and the story advances at an accelerating pace to provide material that makes the reader look forward to the next episode in the trilogy.

Discussion: The author, among other interesting activities, is an accomplished, award-winning short story writer who has extended to full scale novels. This is the first of his writings that this reviewer has read and admittedly is impressive. He has provided a young adult fantasy that reaches and maintains a level of action that deserves the additional term of thriller and with action that is credible (if this term can be applied to a fantasy) enough to be most acceptable to the sophistication of todays’ generation and incidentally even acceptable to more mature ‘young-at-heart’ readers.

5* Fantasy thriller for young readers and for the ‘young-at-heart’.

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