Rise of the Retics by T. J. Lantz
Rosehaven: the Hidden City
Publisher: Happy Gnome Publishing
Length: Full Length (264 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen
For almost a millennia humanity has been making a concerted effort to eradicate the worlds retics, an eclectic collection of non-human, intelligent species. Recently, those efforts have been strengthened and far more successful than ever, though the Council of Rosehaven, the retic’s hidden sanctuary city, cannot figure out why.
No one realizes the danger of this this more than eleven-year-old Tyranna Wolfskin, who is ripped from her boring, everyday life in the middle of the night by a vicious group of retic hunters. Thrust into a struggle for her own survival, Tyranna must find a way to accept what she is and learn to acclimate herself to a world she never knew existed.
Eleven year old Tyranna Wolfskin was used to being different. Among all the orphans at Lipkos Monastery, she was the only female. She was always pushed into activities like mending clothes or working in the kitchen when she would much rather be studying or learning about the forest. But if she thought she was different just because she was a girl, she would soon discover a much greater difference as she came to learn about the non-human species she had never known existed. These “retics” were as different from each other as they were from humans, but they had a common goal of surviving against the human “retic” hunters.
This story revolves around the theme of difference and how those differences are treated. T. J. Lantz’ story is very loosely set in Europe during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. While Lantz has the Coalition of the Burning Heart searching out non-humans or half-humans, the message is the same as it was in the Inquisition. Differences will not be tolerated and those who are different must be destroyed. In order to save themselves, the “retics” have built a hidden sanctuary governed by the Counsel of Rosehaven. The “retics” must learn to put aside their own personal differences and work together for the survival of all.
I like the way Lantz tells the story from multiple perspectives. We begin with Tyranna, who discovers she is half human and half elf, and then we are introduced to Jaxon, a demon/human half-breed. One of the problems with the “retics” is that they too have difficulties with differences and they also don’t like half-breeds. So for Tyranna and Jaxon the challenges become immense.
Tyranna is forced to learn about the world of the retics very abruptly and cruelly. Nevertheless, she doesn’t lose her smile and her enthusiasm for learning. She is also a very kind person, able to see the true nature of others, and in this way, her gentleness and her determination, her skills and her wisdom, enable her to make friends with a variety of personalities in a way that has her friends working together even when they had begun as enemies. Her vision for herself and her world is one which sees past any individual differences and instead focuses on what individuals have in common.
Lantz does an excellent job of portraying the many different species in his world. Each character is well developed with a clear and unique voice. Lantz alternates between Tyranna’s story and Jaxon’s, but the switches are easy to keep up with and by the end Lantz has brought them as well as a smaller third thread into a cohesive ending for this first novel in his series.
I really enjoyed this novel and I feel that Lantz tells a compelling and riveting story about how differences are handled. I can recommend it for any reader of fantasy, adult or young adult. I can’t wait for the next book in this series.