Past Illuminations: Book One by Amanda Ross

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Past Illuminations: Book One follows the fantastical journey of a young girl named Georgette—George for short. Only slightly atypical for a girl her age, George had already set out a great life plan for herself: take AP classes, get into a great college, study hard, keep her head down, graduate, and land a good job. While her friends were worrying about homecoming dresses and finding dates to the dance, George was focusing on university tours and test scores. However, when a glowing blue orb begins to follow her around, everything changes. She discovers that not only has her mysterious and rebellious classmate, Dominic, come from another realm—one inhabited by goblins and werewolves—but her parents have come from there, too! They were exiled long ago and relegated to the human world, but now political unrest stemming from the alleged assassination of a beloved leader forces them to consider sending their only child back into this magical turmoil. Along with a motley crew of mythical outcasts, George must fight a powerful goblin army to rest the truth about the murder of the realm’s former leader away from the shady new regime, and this struggle is only the beginning of her journey: to find the truth, but also to find herself.

For all of its glorious atmosphere, reminiscent of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and its ever-encouraging endorsement of the underdog, Past Illuminations: Book One falls fairly short in character development and consistency. Leaning pretty heavily on staid tropes, the novel fails to flesh out most of its characters in any real way. As it is the beginning of a series, though, there is hope yet for these stock characters to come to life. All things considered, this book is a fun start to a promising series.