Anika and The Sorceress
by Marlene C. Aquino
URLink Print and Media, LLC

"At last, the time has come. The savior for our king, Yuzuf, is born. Soon, he will be set free from the wicked kingdom of Ninirov."

Seven-year-old Anika Smith is no ordinary child. Clad in her floral jumpsuit and pink sneakers, this extraordinary little girl has an otherworldly destiny, replete with adventure, danger, and mystical friends to guide her path. Yet as Anika’s power grows, so does the trepidation of her parents, who will do anything to protect her from the mysterious creatures who claim her as their hero. When attempts to relocate Anika for her protection come to no avail, she is magically transported to the kingdom of Durvesq, a land in mourning for their missing king, and his parents, stricken gravely ill by a misguided sorceress. Yet before Anika can confront her adversary, expelling the black magic that threatens the realm, she must undertake a series of harrowing quests through which she will turn the hearts of the wicked and restore strife-torn families to joy.

Overall, Aquino’s narrative offers numerous fun and imaginative elements, as well as lovely descriptions of enchanted landscapes, lavish adornments, and mythical beasts. Particularly creative are the encounters with evil elements in the story, which are memorably crafted. However, while the plot has spooky and delightful turns, there are some noticeable issues with execution. Grammatical and typographical errors appear throughout, and many of the diverse and whimsical characters are underdeveloped. Additionally, while the author presents a lush backstory for King Yuzuf and Queen Memei, for whom Anika undertakes her journey, they assume the primary focus for many consecutive chapters, impeding the continuity and pacing of the action. Notwithstanding, this imaginative story will likely immerse and delight children and adolescent youth. Furthermore, as much a story about the triumph of family over adversity as a fanciful adventure tale, this work arrives at a sweet and affirming conclusion that will leave many readers hoping for a sequel.

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