The beginning of The Elysian Project by Vivien Reis finds the two main characters, Abigail and Benjamin Cole, wrestling with how their mother’s illness affects their lives and family as a whole while attempting to maintain their separate existences as normal teenagers. A series of events leads each sibling to metaphorically brush the fringe of a fantasy world that neither was aware existed up until ignorance was no longer an option. Thereafter Abi and Ben become ensnared into Elysia’s current timeline in their own ways.
The buildup that leads to each sibling’s involvement with Elysia is written well. At least 40 percent of the book dwells in the non-magical world though, so that can be a drawback for some who were hoping to see more fantasy in this first installment of the series. However, in this blogger’s humble opinion, Mrs. Reis did an excellent job of incorporating fantasy into the fictional reality, which puts readers on track to mentally propel into the unknown.
With that being said, concerning the magic system and world building, both were executed well. The author managed to deftly weave in a combination of imagery and information that plunged me into her novel with little struggle. She incorporated new information throughout the novel without unleashing copious amounts all at once, which made for a better reading experience.
As for the characters, I loved each one for what they brought to the novel, especially the main characters. With the story switching between different points of view, I discovered each to have their own merits. However, I must mention that I adored the great sibling bond that Abi and Ben shared. I felt that their whole family dynamic was portrayed realistically, as well. Outside of them, Gran was a hoot, as was Cora. As a side note, after mentioning those characters, I also feel the need to say that I loved the strong female characters in this book. Lastly, with regard to the lesser mentioned characters, and those who came in along the way, they were also written well, I believe.
There is little romance to speak of, but the one that was developed throughout the book, I am neutral on. It is not something I had expected, given the subject matter, but it was not terrible either. For those who enjoy a romance story within all books they read, it should please them, as it was a healthy one, at least.
That being said, there were a few minor discrepancies and errors I found throughout the book. Certain parts made me read back and double check what I had consumed before. Also, for a YA, certain scenes were much more graphic than I had expected them to be. There are torture scenes that younger readers should be aware of. However, this by no means made my reading experience any less enjoyable.
Overall, I found this story to be one that was not what I had expected at all, but it was better for it. The characters and the new worlds that the reader explores are intriguing. I cannot wait to read the second book, whenever it comes out!
I rated this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads.
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. I do not receive payment or other rewards for posting this review.