Cover Image: Drōmfrangil

Drōmfrangil

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Member Reviews

This is an incredible story about a tough young man who discovers that he has a power to go into another world. Marcus Talent is a handicapped teen due to an accident from when he was younger. Marcus lives a pretty normal life between going to school and having to deal with the occasional bully. But at the very least he has a very good friend that usually helps him out and is able to keep him company along with a new friend he has made.I don't want to go too much into any spoilers so what I will say is that this book is very character-driven and the world building is absolutely incredible. 

There are quite a few characters in the book with so much adventure and some action throughout. I'm sure that you will find many characters that you'll grow to really enjoy and like. I am happy that we get to see much of the world and even get a few details of different places. I cannot wait to return to the world of Drōmfrangil and find out even more about the world and what has happened to various characters if there is any time skip or anything between books. There are some twists that I did not see coming as well that I'm sure you will also enjoy.

The narrator does a very good job at differentiating between the different characters and keeping you engaged with the story while you listen. As I also had an e-book of this I was able to read through while listening to the audiobook and read the book when listening was not an option. No matter your preferred format for this book I am sure you will like it and I can't recommend it enough.

In my opinion we are just scratching the surface of what this world has to offer and I can't wait to know more if that's in our future. This is a great book and an incredibly fun read that you can share with your friends.

I give this book 5 prosthesis out of 5

-Teo
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Drōmfrangil tells a magical story about a boy, Marcus Talent, who discovers unexpectedly that he can travel to another world when he wakes up in an unfamiliar forest, has his prosthetic arm eaten by a horrifying monster, and then wakes up again in his own bed, terrified and bleeding. Marcus' dad seems to have answers, but before he can give them, he disappears and now it's up to Marcus to find him and bring him back home.

I think this was my first book, with disability representation in a main character, and I think most of it was written quite well! A disabled protagonist is still a rarety nowadays, and seeing Marcus "struggle" with acceptance and bullying, but never blaming his disability for any "shortcomings" or wishing for a healthy arm, is a great setting for young readers. The hero in this story is not perfect, he's not a wonder kid that immediately does everything perfectly and doesn't struggle with anything on his path. It's actually pretty inspiring.

However, there are some things that I did not quite enjoy about the writing. I know this story is aimed at middle grade readers, but still, some chapters felt too much like info-dumping and overselling certain unnecessary plot points. We get most information on the world building of Drōmfrangil through basically a Q&A between the characters, rather than Marcus discovering it through adventures. Which is a shame, because this makes it feel more like an interview than a story. A lot of "learnings" in the story are also clearly written as such, like something you read on a black board in school, copy and learn by heart. It's not subtle, but plainly there, which for me as a reader makes me feel forced to accept that lesson. For younger readers this might be totally fine and undetectable or not disturbing, but I think that also a lot of young readers would think this a bit too rubbing ones nose in it.

All in all, the story and especially the world building still makes for a great story, but I think the writing has potential and could have been improved to make the story more "experienceable".

I give this a total rating of 3.5 Stars.
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The world building in this book was AMAZING. i wish there was a map included but i still really enjoyed imagining everything myself. I'm very happy about the inclusion of a disabled main character and how well it was written. The characters were very likeable (the stand outs being Cornus & Leopold, my faves!!) and I really liked the dynamic between the group. 
The only thing I wasn't particularly fond of in this book was the Trauma dumping. In the beginning when Marcus tells a complete stranger (Sadie) about all of his trauma surrounding his disability. I just didn't think that was realistic and I know that someone with a disability would not open up to a stranger they had met 2 minutes ago about that kind of thing.
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The idea of this one drew me in but something just didn’t click for me. I felt like there was a lot of extra parts that just made the story confusing. I had a hard time picturing this one in my mind too because there wasn’t as much detail for world building. 

I cannot say it was bad, because it wasn’t. I loved the author had a variety of characters and was very inclusive. I’m glad I had it on audio because I would not have been able to pronounce a lot of words. I enjoyed the different animals/people in Drumfrangil but couldn’t picture them all in my mind. I really could the giant tortoise like beings but some like one of the main character that was a scrib was not as easy to imagine. 

The story itself was a good fantasy but it didn’t click for me because I struggled to picture it. That’s my downside but others may be able to and LOVE it. The author has a lot of promise.
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Drōmfrangil tells the story of sixteen year old Marcus, who finds out that he has inherited a special talent from his father: the ability to slip into an alternate world called Drōmfrangil in his sleep. His first trip does not pass uneventful; he finds himself in an unfamiliar forest, only to have his prosthetic arm eaten by a horrifying monster and to narrowly escape back to his bed with the help of a talking bush… Before he can get any explanation from his father, who has lived with this ability for years now, things take a turn for the worse. Helped by his human friends from our world, and some new allies he meets along the way, Marcus is thrown into a wildly imaginative rescue mission through Drōmfrangil to save his family. 

What I liked: 
The titular world truly steals the show in this novel; it’s highly imaginative and feels very expansive. In some ways I was reminded of Narnia a bit, with the way the author has thought out different races and area’s of this world, and in many ways it felt like this had the potential of being a full series in this world. 
My personal biggest selling point, as mentioned, was the inclusion of a disabled protagonist, and I’m happy to say that I think this aspect was handled very well. The handicap isn’t the main focus of the story, but does play into it later in an interesting way. The discussion about bodily difference didn’t feel heavy handed and  I really appreciate the subversion of a popular trope when it comes to this subject (see the spoiler-section at the bottom).

What I disliked: 
My problems with this story started right from chapter one, and if I’m honest: I don’t think I would have made it past that chapter if this hadn’t been a review copy. We are introduced to Marcus on his ride to the schoolbus, where he meets one of the other main characters Sadie for the first time. This scene provides some of the most awkward character introduction I have ever read in a novel. The characters introduce themselves, Sadie immediately tells Marcus she’s Asian (why?), and Marcus immediately mentions that he feels like he’s already great friends with this girl after barely speaking 2 words with her. She than asks him why he has the prosthesis, which prompts him to infodump his entire life story, including a traumatic accident on this girl he barely even knows, without even flinching. This interaction also happens to be about the only character development we get from these two. She is Sadie (the Asian girl Marcus likes), he is Marcus (the protagonist who has a dad and a prosthetic arm after and accident), and then there’s Leopold who’s personality traits are: eating a lot and making puns. 
This expositional bus-scene is problematic for 2 reasons: it’s evidence of the worst kind of storytelling (exposition and explanation via literal dialogue), and it’s a bit disrespectful to the protagonists disability. I’ve had people who I don’t know ask me about my disability, and its never such an easy conversation as portrayed here. It’s also not a good message to young readers that this is the way they should have to approach such a conversation. There was a better moment and a better place for this conversation than in scene one, on a schoolbus with a girl you don’t know.
Unfortunately this style of storytelling continues: almost all information about the world is conveyed through dialogue: Marcus asking questions and one of the inhabitants of Drōmfrangil answering. It makes for an uninteresting reading experience but it also takes away from the depth of worldbuilding. Drōmfrangil is only explored through “telling” and therefore, as the saying goes, “wide as an ocean, but deep as a puddle”. It’s unfortunate, because the author has the talent for imagination, but the execution is frankly very amateurish and could have used a few edits. 
Another question I kept asking myself whilst reading Drōmfrangil was: who is the target audience here? The story reads like a young middle-grade and would probably work best as such. However, the protagonists are supposed to be 16, and some of the scenes are a bit too disturbing and gory for that demographic. As a novel for 16-year-olds it might work for some, but had I read it at that age, I would have found it too juvenile, especially when it comes to the characters and the cartoonish antagonist.

Physical, Audio or e-book?
Drōmfrangil is available in physical form, e-book and audio, which I really appreciate. Not every publisher has the ability to provide an audio-format, but I’m always happy to see one so the book can also reach readers with visual impairments, dyslexia or other physical differences. The narrator is pleasant to listen to and does a good job of voicing different characters. You can tell that the studio-quality isn’t quite like that of a mainstream publisher by a slightly metallic quality to the audio, which gets more noticeable if you play it at 2x speed. Other than that it’s a high quality audio-production. 

Spoilers !
 One of the more common tropes in fantasy with disabled characters I encounter is the addition of some kind of magical healing item, which (temporarily) erases the disability for the time they’re in this parallel world. Marcus also comes across a healing object, but decides not to use it to regain his arm, as his disability has made him to who he is now, and he doesn’t feel the need to chance anything. The scene in which he discusses this with his friend was well done, and I appreciated the subversion of this trope. 

Overall this novel had good potential but didn’t work for me. Many thanks to the publisher Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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For the most part I enjoyed the narrator. Had good emphasis and like his voice for the main character but it didn’t work as well when he voiced the other friends. I could tell who was speaking though, which I appreciate. The main human girl character was where the narration fell flat. Felt quite stereotypical and over the top but this could also just be the writing and the narrator working with what he had. I do think he was a bit slow? I was listening on double speed and it still felt slow. 
About the book/writing itself: Struggled to enjoy this. Lots of info dumping that felt very unnatural, also trauma dumping that felt forced. Very cliche. The story pace was very slow. And the differences between the three main characters didn’t feel natural. Characters would regurgitate history of laws, their whole trauma to strangers, it was clear it was for the reader but didn’t feel natural. Tried to ignore it for the rest of the story and plot as it’s more of a fantasy book, but they were just so bizarre. And there was so much time explaining ‘human’ things to the creatures rather than furthering plot. I was excited as this is a book by a disabled person, with a disabled MC but was deeply overshadowed.
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