Saskatoon StarPhoenix Review - The Piper of Shadonia

Reviewed by: Beverley Brenna

Linda Smith's fantasy novel The Piper of Shadonia (Coteau paperback, $14.95), published posthumously, is a strong character-driven read that resonates with universal themes.

Two cultures inhabit the same living space, each bidding for power in a relationship that is crafted to show how individuals can choose different ethical stances towards their enemy. The audience is left with an understanding that war is made up of multiple points of view, a complex message is but deftly drawn.

Tobin, the son of a mayor answering to the dominant class of Forenzians, cares more about the ancient and suppressed world of Shadonia. As he discovers how own Shadonian gifts, he is persuaded to side with the rebels against his own family, until, at last, he makes a decision that offers sanctuary, if only temporary, for both sides.

Fantasy offers readers a chance to explore contemporary themes through the safe distance of story. This title is a stellar example. Linda Smith was a children's librarian who authored picture books, poetry and short fiction in addition to a number of other fantasy titles including The Broken Thread and the Tales of the Three Lands trilogy as well as the Freyan Trilogy. Her death in 2007 was a blow to the literary world and it is commendable that the editors at Coteau Books worked to bring this latest manuscript to light. For ages 12 to 14.

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