Have Amber — Will Travel, by Keith Vlasak

have-amber-will-travel-by-keith-vlasak coverGenre: Fantasy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Published: 2015
Reviewer Rating: three and a half stars
Book Review by David L. Felts

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Have Amber — Will Travel, by Keith Vlasak, clocks in at a whopping 591 pages. I mention this only because I think this is a detriment considering what I think would be its best audience. It’s about the adventures of five brothers and sisters, only one of which is older than eighteen. In a way, it made me feel as though I was watching an extended episode of Magic Schoolbus.

Becasue of the age of the main characters, I think the book’s best audience is pre-teens or slightly older, with the best age being around 12 -14 or 15 years old, depending on the child. Nothing wrong with that, but plopping a book of this thickness into the hands of a pre-teen is sure to make his or her eyes glaze over with the daunting task finishing it represents.

However, if said pre-teen can get past the intimidating idea of actually reading a book so long, he or she is in for a fun fantasy adventure romp through ancient Egypt, complete with Pharaohs, gods, monsters and more. The Dylan kids are of various genders and ages; I’m sure one of them would be relatable to any young reader and they all take center stage at one time or another.

Vlasak did an admirable job with these characters. Each is unique, with their own distinguishable personality and quirks, as are the myriad minor characters. Paige, the oldest, is a strong female lead and makes a good role model. And that’s the biggest strength of this novel — the characters and their relationships with each otehr. Vlasak really captured the complex nuances of five brothers and sisters; the competition, the frustration, and most of all the love and support they have for one another despite their petty squabbles and differences.

One of the things I think Vlasek could benefit from would be a good editor. His prose is wordy and overwritten. The energy (and excessive length) of the story would benefit from good tightening. Because of his penchant for long and somewhat rambling sentences, I often found myself re-reading sections in an attempt to fully understand what had just happened.

In the end, the reader is left with a fine (if long-winded) story full of magic, action and adventure, with some Egyptian history and mythology thrown in for good measure. While I hesitate to recommend it for adults, it would be great for the pre-teen crowd, supposing they could get past the initial intimidation of its length.

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