Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key by Susan McPhail is a smart, intriguing tale that seamlessly melds historical fiction, fantasy, and suspense. The characters are well developed and their motivations are clear and internally consistent. Many contemporary authors fall back on a lazy portrayal of conflicts that depicts one side as wholly pure and the other as irredeemably corrupt--or worse, denies the reality of good and evil altogether. McPhail accepts the challenge of exploring the virtues and vices; strengths and weaknesses of her two warring nations. That touch alone sets The Origin Key above a large part of the field.
S.D. McPhail spent years writing technical documentation and developing marketing materials for high-tech engineering firms. Even though she enjoyed working with genius engineers, she always suspected that writing fiction would be more fun, and she was right. Her love of creating plausible fictional cultures is rooted in her early college days as an archaeology/anthropology major. Articles and documentaries on the ancient Hittites, Egyptians, Mayans, or other extinct cultures still make her eyes light up. Susan’s mind is usually wandering around the intersection of Ancient Aliens and Indiana Jones searching for nuggets of inspiration for a new story.
Once while letting her imagination roam freely, Susan invented a children’s board game called Zombies at the Zoo, just for her family and particularly for a precocious little guy who had been watching The Walking Dead with his mom since he was four years old. It’s good, old-fashioned, non-terrifying, Zombie Apocalypse Fun. It may not be much competition for video games or an iPad, but it reinforces basic counting, matching, and alphabet recognition skills.
Plot twists and turns make this imaginative story come to life.
My ONLY criticism is that I was left wanting more.
The plot is full of twists and turns, however, and utopia is not as it seems on the surface, or even in the beautiful, hidden library.
I felt transported to ancient times and vicariously experienced the beauty of it all.
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