Reminiscent of the quirky world of Alice in Wonderland and fairy tales, Shore has a whimsical nature that makes for a fun adventure with endearing characters, a complicated villain, and a hero’s journey. Lahar is a regular college student whose idea of fun is binge-watching her favorite series, until she wakes up in a bizarre new land. After she stumbles upon the home of a wizard named Arena, she seeks his aid in helping her find a way home. They seek out Void, another inhabitant, for help, but Void isn’t the ally they were expecting. After barely escaping, they have to look for another way to send Lahar home. As Arena trains Lahar in history and magic, beasts attack, and Void’s surprising plan is uncovered. Turning to Arena’s wisp friends, they must find a way to stop the beasts before it’s too late.
Enrique Rosado uses rich details to bring to life this quirky world of magic, with vivid scenes, straight-forward language, and a sharp humor. The characters are a fun mix of whimsical and eccentric, with each filling a role from a typical fairy tale while also being unique and layered. The wisps are adorable and friendly, communicating through flickers, with each having its own personality that’s reflected in its appearance. Pie is the wisp closest to Arena, who has the appearance of a large dog, just with fire. He typically behaves like a dog but also fits into the role of protector and ally. King is the cutest of the wisps, a little creature made up of sand with a starfish on its chest and feet that are similar in shape to a stuffed animal’s, vastly different from Crew, who is muscular and strong, with long arms and horns.
The most unusual of the characters is the antagonist, Void, a talking mannequin with no mouth, a wooden body with stone thorns, and carved holes for eyes. Rosado plays with perspective as Lahar and Arena view Void as the villain, while Void himself fully believes he’s a hero of the story. All of his actions are based in what he believes is the greater good, and he detests when anyone refers to him in a villainous light. He sincerely views himself as the hero, which adds a fun layer to the story as his actions seem to always have another meaning behind them. So while it’s easy to describe Void as wicked based on Lahar and Arena’s perspectives, there’s also a definite sympathy for him. It’s hard to define him as a typical villain when he honestly doesn’t see anything wrong with his actions, such as whisking Lahar to this world, which he presents as an opportunity for an adventure. He’s genuinely upset by being painted as a villain in their eyes and doesn’t seem to understand that his actions are villainous. He’s the most layered of the characters, and it’s easy to feel an odd attachment to him from this.
The relationship between Arena and Lahar is primarily a mentor-student relationship, but they form a strong connection rooted in friendship. He’s a wizard who serves as her confidante, who has a vast knowledge, and who takes it upon himself to give her shelter and lessons in magic while searching for a way to return her home. Lahar has a personal hero’s journey throughout, going from feeling useless to discovering how powerful she is. They have a fun banter and a sweet connection that plays a key role toward the end.
Shore is riddled with fairy tale elements, from the whimsical characters to the unusual setting, including Arena’s house, which is powered by lightning. Void tries to sway them by breaking the fourth wall and telling them this adventure will be a fairy tale of sorts. When he admits to being after Arena’s heart, he not only claims that this would benefit them both, but he also refers to himself as “the good witch” to Lahar’s hero and Arena’s magical prince. Shore is a truly quirky and unique read that will be a new favorite for fantasy lovers.
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