Verdict: The high stakes, unique concepts, and strong moral messages in THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN LANGUAGE make it a fantasy novel that will capture the imagination of any reader that loves to get lost in an animal adventure of epic proportions.
When Theo, a young rabbit training under his village’s healer, uses his forbidden ability to read to unlock a puzzle that stumbles onto his doorstep, he’s drawn into a war that threatens to engulf all of the land of Mankahar. As one of the the thirteen apprentices destined to overthrow an evil emperor, Theo must leave his village to join the Order in their quest to defeat an army of humans before they can rob all of the animals of their power of speech and free will.
On the surface, THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN LANGUAGE is reminiscent of novels like the Guardians of Ga’Hoole or the Warriors series. However, THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN LANGUAGE is not a children’s novel. The threat of death is always on the horizon for Theo and his companions, and Melanie Ansley doesn’t shrink back from violence. Scattered amongst what is ultimately a hopeful narrative are moments of heartbreak, where characters loose friends and family to detailed descriptions of gruesome poisons or treacherous betrayals.
Death isn’t the only threat hanging over Theo and his friends, though. The concept behind THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN LANGUAGE is centered around “pacification”, a process used by the humans to remove animal intelligence. In a world where the written language is the greatest source of power, having your speech taken away is a fate worse than death. This unique concept makes the land of Manhakar seem like it might have existed in the long ago past, back when animals could still talk and magic still happened.
Mixed into the plot of THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN LANGUAGE are a series of powerful moral messages. Theo’s ability to read and heal lends him power; his inner strength outweighs the physical strength of other characters. He’s humble and spends most of his time hiding his abilities, but as the story progresses he learns that he can’t continue to hide who he is. He comes to understand that true friendship means being able to trust others with your secrets.
THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN language is a highly engaging fantasy novel that follows in the footsteps of series like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and the Inheritance Cycle. Readers with a love of fantastic journeys, unlikely heroes, and dark powers will quickly be drawn into the dangerous world of THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN LANGUAGE.
~Stephani Hren for IndieReader