Diane Louise Smith’s debut novel Eye of Leomander establishes her as one of the premiere fantasy writers of our generation. The story begins with innocuous and incredibly realistic circumstances, segueing into a fantastical world of magical orbs, a talking mouse, and an owl who can turn the color of his eyes flame red. By rooting the story in reality, centered around three normal teenagers who accidentally stumble upon a mystical world, the story appeals both to fans of fantasy fiction and fiction readers.
Tammy Drinkwater and her brothers decide to spend some quality time with each other before her oldest brother, Fred, goes off to college. Their mother, whose traditional values mandate that they spend their summer vacation visiting family, protests their chosen destination; however, Tammy’s father persuades their mother to allow the children to go. When the weather turns threatening, they must take refuge in Werifer castle, a fabled haunted castle about which Tammy has recently read. Although they have a vague sense of foreboding, having been forewarned not to enter the castle by their bus driver and Tammy’s knowledge of the castle, having read that “unusual things happened” inside, the trio is left with no other choice.
Once inside, Tammy discovers the Eye of Leomander, a mystical and supernaturally powerful object. Tammy quickly becomes aware that she is not the only person who has interest in the Eye of Leomander, as her brothers are taken prisoner by the man who is seeking the orb for himself, leaving her to save them with the aid of the castle’s magical inhabitants.
Smith’s accessible language and style makes it an appropriate read for young adults and adults alike. Innumerable plot twists and turns keep readers spellbound as curious circumstances befall Tammy and the danger heightens. Eye of Leomander is a unique twist on the classic coming of age story, as Tammy must make difficult decisions, summon her courage, and use values to guide her through a world unlike any modern teenager has ever imagined. A must-read, deftly written by an emerging author whom readers will certainly come to follow.