As with other popular children’s fantasy series (e.g. Harry Potter, Keeper of the Lost Cities, Percy Jackson), Nathalie Laine’s Alessia in Atlantis: The Forbidden Vial revolves around a child, in this case 12-year-old Alessia, who discovers that she is not who she thought she was and is whisked away to a hidden world, the titular Atlantis. There, she must learn a new language, new realities, and new abilities, while making friends and going through the usual growing pains. There are a school, an unknown enemy lurking, and a mystery to solve. The novel releases in March 1.
My interest in this title, which I received from NetGalley for review, was owing to the reference to Atlantis. The mystery of this ancient city offers intriguing avenues for fiction writers to explore. For the most part, Laine draws on the legend primarily on a surface level: It clearly inspired the world’s underwater location and name. I say this not as a negative criticism but to set expectations. If you pick up the novel expecting in-depth engagement with ancient legends and concepts, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for an action-packed story set in a fantastical world that is creatively imagined and fresh, Laine’s novel more than satisfies.
The novel is more plot than character-driven. My personal preference is for a bit more attention to children’s inner lives. Seeing their emotional experiences in books can be an important way young readers develop a language for understanding and expressing themselves. That said, the writing is at times quite lovely and evocative.
How about you: Do you prefer fiction driven by plot or character?