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Professional reviews for Justyce Scales
Norma Rrae’s imagined realm in her fantasy novel echoes the whimsy, surrealism and imagination of Lewis Caroll’s Wonderland.
In this story, it’s Lucille Amberly Flask who makes an unexpected journey to another world. Luci is celebrating her sweet 16 with her mother, Ruth; they’re on a road trip that takes them through the wilds of British Columbia when Luci recognizes her face on a passing billboard. It’s one of the last sights she sees before her mother stops the car short in front of a menacing wall of fog, knocking her out in the process.
Luci awakes alone and soon finds herself lured into a strange cave, where a ghost woman sporting a face like a “broken porcelain doll mask” informs her that she’s been summoned to “The Otherly,” an alternative universe. Colorful characters, strange landscapes and mythic trials abound; among others, Luci meets Zavian, a type of creature called a Memegwaan, described as a “talking Easter Island statue.”
Through her interactions and travels through building-sized greenery, mystical lakes and more, Luci slowly learns her mission: To save her mother, she must face three trials and locate Keres, a mysterious woman who lives in the sky and holds the secret to Luci’s strange journey.
During her quest, Luci dodges dangers tied to Obscura, another plane of existence that holds its own threats.
Rrae writes with a fluidity and flair that makes her surreal vision of The Otherly come alive. Along with a seemingly boundless imagination, she brings a poetic sensibility to the story (her talent for simile, for example, shows in portraying the ghost woman with “red lips like overcooked pottery.”)
Indeed, the author’s skill helps make these fantastical circumstances feel approachable. While the book’s meandering, surreal pacing may be off-putting for more linear fantasy fans, those open to this structure will appreciate Rrae’s work.
The sheer scope of The Otherly, as well as a solidly sympathetic protagonist, make Justyce Scales a meaningful, immersive adventure.
Also available in hardcover and ebook
In the fun fantasy novel Justyce Scales of the Otherly and Obscura, a troubled, lost teenager travels through a surreal world, confronting bickering gods and mystifying creatures in the process.
In Norma Rrae’s fantasy novel Justyce Scales of the Otherly and Obscura, a girl is stranded in another realm.
Luci has daymares and has trouble separating reality from her hallucinations. Her therapist teaches her coping mechanisms, including to use a camera as an impartial viewer. She manages to keep her daymares at bay for her sixteenth birthday trip with her mother—until she sees a billboard with her face on it, suggesting that she’s missing.
Before she can determine if the billboard is real or a hallucination, she’s knocked unconscious in a car crash. When she wakes, she’s alone in Otherly, and the car is surrounded by thick fog.
Luci gets lost in the fog, following a stranger’s voice deep into its midst. She’s directed toward her mother’s location with an ominous warning: she must complete three trials, or she’ll never return home. In this alternate realm, she encounters wondrous beings with strange foibles and mannerisms, as with a humanoid being who speaks only in questions and who reveals much to Luci in the course of a patient conversation.
Otherly is both surreal and naturalistic. Two sisters are fighting each other for control of the realm, with some creatures trying to back one sister. As Luci explores, though, she acclimatizes to this unusual place and comes to understand its inhabitants. She becomes a compelling heroine who presses on even when she’s faced with danger.
She works to apply logic to her situation and to understand why she’s in Otherly.
Balancing its surreal wonders well, the book includes such beings as sword-bearing river sharks and sentient vines, all of which are enlivened by sensory details. A handful of chapters narrated from the perspective of Otherly’s inhabitants are out of place in this mix, though; they add little to the narrative, and their tone is more mundane than
what surrounds them. Still, Luci’s struggles are relatable. She confronts the rulers of Otherly and learns more about her family’s fate. A cliffhanger ending hints at a continuation of her tale.
In the fun fantasy novel Justyce Scales of the Otherly and Obscura, a troubled, lost teenager travels through a surreal world, confronting bickering gods and mystifying creatures.
A YA fantasy novel about a teenage girl who finds herself trapped in a strange place—or maybe just a hallucination of one.
Debut author Rrae’s protagonist, Lucille “Luci” Amberly Flask, has just turned 16, having celebrated her birthday by going on a trip with her mother, Ruth, to Liard Hot Springs. She received a Canon Rebel T3i camera with which she snaps pictures as her mom drives them home. Then she sees something odd on the roadside: a missing person poster on a billboard with her face on it. Soon, a dense fog rolls in and the car crashes. When Luci can’t find her mother, she wonders if this is all really happening or if it’s just a “daymare”—hallucinatory events that she experiences on occasion. Soon, Luci is talking to someone who calls themselves Grentsth, the gatekeeper of “The Otherly,” a parallel world that features magic and talking animals. She’s told she can’t leave The Otherly until she completes three trials, but all she really wants to do is
find Ruth and go home to her father, brother, and friends. However, Luci is also informed that her mother is actually someone named Keres, who has history in The Otherly. Rrae has Luci interact with numerous strange beings on her quest, from a man who speaks only in questions to an elephant who wears jewelry and warriors made of sticks and stones. While the querulous man is about as frustrating as one would imagine, the environment in which he and the others live offers readers a seemingly endless supply of surprises, and Luci moves through them all at a swift, consistent pace.
Although the main character’s goals seem simple enough at the beginning, events take a truly unexpected turn when Luci is finally reunited with Keres. This plot turn does require an explanation that readers may find a bit lengthy, but it effectively
breathes additional life into an already imaginative tale.
A twisty, lively romp through a bizarre world.
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