After interviewing M. H. Elrich back in January, I added her debut novel Etania’s Worth to my TBR (ISBN: 978-1087865751). Upon reading it, I wish I had read it sooner. This was a story I did not realize I needed in my life until I opened the book. Elrich magically captures what is means to grow up in both a literal and spiritual sense. Her detailed characters and peoples create a fascinating world, and her plot draws you in making you eager to discover what will happen next.
Etania Selali has a strained relationship with her father who often puts hunting Skazic over his family. Because of this, Etania chooses to become her mother’s apprentice at the library rather than train under her father. However, after a surprise attack by a Skazic, Etania and her family discover she is a Vexli — she has the Neuma (a unique power given by God) to change Skazic back to their human selves (before they were corrupted by Malstorm). Etania struggles accepting her father’s desire to use her as a weapon against the Skazic, but more than that she struggles to accept herself and the fact that Melchizedek (son of God) loves her and has a plan for her life. As Etania travels with her father and his apprentice gathering support for a coming war after a great betrayal, she journeys to places of self-discovery, self-acceptance, love, and God’s grace.
Within the world of Tamnarae, there are many groups of people with specific Neuma. For instance, the Leici have healing Neuma while the Eritam can tame wolves. Similarly the Draconians can control dragons. The Naymatua can grow plants, the Ningyo can control water, and the Kinzoku can manipulate metal. (Personally, I would totally be a Draconian. Is there a quiz for this? There should be a quiz for this.)
One of my favorite quotes from the book reads, “He loved her even when she couldn’t love herself.” I think this line perfectly captures what true love looks like, and the unwavering love God has for us. As Etania discovers the love of God, we are reminded of it again and again. Elrich’s writing is a beautiful reminder that God is the source of all love and that our relationship with him should always remain a priority.
I highly recommend Etania’s Worth to lovers of YA fantasy and Christian fiction.
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