41/2 -Stars for ‘Wham (Timewalker) Vol 1,’ by Carol-Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps
Unique, Ingenious and Precarious were the three words resounding in my mind while reading this book written by two skilled and extremely imaginative writers.
Unique, because the authors attempted something few others would – fusing dystopian Science Fiction, a la G Orwell, HG Wells, and Aldous Huxley, with pure fantasy, a la Tolkien, CS Lewis and JK Rowling – complete with magic, Fairies and Trolls.
Ingenious, because they were able to weave the two making it a captivating, imaginative read without making the genre fusion seem peculiar.
And precarious, because the story, at times, skirted the line where the adult references may, by some, though carefully handled, be considered too adult for the younger fantasy readers.
Wham, in my opinion, tells three important stories.
The story of a civilisation that, not through war or plague or climatological catastrophe, but through some sort of societal decline, has fallen into an autocratic state of tyranny with constant state surveillance and control, and few, if any, human rights. The story of a driven young girl to win the freedom of her family, regardless of the obstacles, odds and obvious risks, and a story of the human spirit that drives people to adapt to even the harshest of conditions.
Parents are taken away during the night and their children are forced to accept it and move on with their lives.
Young girls who are ‘chosen’ are taken to the elusive and corrupt oligarchic capitol and forced into a degrading lifestyle as slaves to the aristocracy.
This is the part of the book that seemed intentionally dark and reeked of a statement or warning of a potential for our own world.
When it happens to Tess, her family is abducted [relocated] in chapter one, the story’s main character, we have the brightness of that human spirit I spoke of.
Tess is driven, determined and committed to winning her family’s freedom and will learn something valuable about her father and herself as she seeks to find her family and the hidden capitol where her sister Nia is held captive.
I took four pages of notes while reading this book, but literally chucked them when crafting this review as there is plainly too much going on in this compelling tale to condense and summarise in a brief review.
I’ll simply say, that the imagination and research [Please DO read the appendix] that went into this book was astounding. The dystopian world is aptly described and the fantasy is rich, creative, much of it steeped in Gaelic folklore, and colourful.
I have but one criticism—a very slight one indeed, which kept me from giving this a 5-Star review. I love books that make statements and present warnings. Meaningful books which can be read on multiple levels. Wham, I believe, is that type of book. But, in this tale by Carol and Tom Phipps, I feel there may have been too many leaving little room to expound or extend upon the statements or warnings being made.
[Warning – Spoilers ahead]
The air is nearly unbreathable and everyone must use inhalers. But, why? How did this come about? Agricultural spraying is mentioned, but just briefly.
The Aristocracy, the oligarchic elite, along with the tyrannical ruler, have moved to a hidden Capitol. But when and how did this evolve? Did the people resist? Rebel?
It would have been nice to have a little background on these developments as well as the knowledge of how the world fell under the rule of this despotic supreme ruler buttressed by the world police force creatively labelled Children and Family Assistance.
Wham, by Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps, is a fine, absorbing read. The story is coherent, the pace is fast without being frenetic and the characters are well-developed making this a true page-turner.
I enjoyed this book tremendously, recommend it highly and am anxiously looking forward to the next book in this series.
Review by T, E. Mark – Author