Book One of the Scribes Series
By Dylan West
Pickle Jar Press
Paperback, 334 pages. © 2022
Forced to flee her homeworld as a child due to world-shattering earthquakes, Mallory now lives on Planet Daishon, where earthquakes are unheard of—until a big quake shakes the very foundations of everything she takes for granted, taking away her security and the lives of thousands, including her parents. Mallory struggles for answers to how the impossible has happened, but rumor and research lead her to an infamous underground mine protected by an impenetrable stone that grows. What she discovers far outstrips any imaginings she might have held and teaches her many things about her people, and about herself.
Scribes’ Descent is a delightful young-adult adventure that surrounds young Mallory with both danger and discovery. None of the young characters, all in their late teens, felt stereotypical to me. Each was astute, intelligent, clever, and nice; they’re good teens in trying situations, and they always use their sharp minds to think their way out of their predicaments. Mallory and her cohorts would make great role models for young readers, as they depict brainy, book-obsessed, math-savvy characters in cool ways, especially since they’re able to use those brains, that math, and those books they’ve read to solve their problems. The way they think and speak, while definitely Y.A. in some respects (i.e. no foul language; instead, the characters use words like “saps” as an exclamation), is certainly high-level, using vocabulary that may require a bit of thought at times. No doubt Mallory would relish the thought of learning a new word, and readers of her story likely will, as well.
The author tells Mallory’s story in clean, wholesome fashion. There’s no sex, no on-the-page blood-and-guts violence. Mallory and her pals run into troubles, no doubt, but I think this is a good, safe read for any age level above 13. Scribes is marketed as Y.A., yet I definitely enjoyed reading it. Even the fantastic parts (this is fantasy, after all) felt plausible. West has done his research to “science it up,” and it shows. His writing style is approachable and easygoing, even when the storyline twists at all the right places, keeping the reader glued to the page. Each time I thought I could relax, the plot would take another unexpected turn, bringing Mallory and her pals to a new tight spot. It’s easy to keep reading despite the fact that it’s past your bedtime.
Since this is the first book in a series, the reader should expect to run into a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end. But that didn’t spoil it for me. In fact, it made me certain that I’ll be looking for the next book in the series.
If you have teens who love to read, or who are incredibly bright—saps, even if you have no kids, but you love to read a good fantasy story—you’ll want to check out this book. Scribes’ Descent will be released on May 30, 2022, you can check out more about the author, Dylan West at his website.