A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.
A year ago Darcy Pennington had no real friends. A year ago she’d thought that magic only existed in fairy tales. A year ago she would have laughed at the idea of other worlds.
Then everything changed when she’d visited Cedar Cove Family Camp and stumbled into a magical gateway to a world called Alitheia.
It is the summer before freshman year and Darcy and her five friends have come back to Cedar Cove Family Camp and Alitheia. This return is bittersweet because her elusive purpose in the magical realm continues to evade her. Egged on by Tellius, the boy prince she is prophesied to marry, Darcy rebels and impulsively “petitions” an entity called the Oracle and requests it give her information as to her purpose. In order to receive her answer she must travel to the Oracle, and so she embarks on a journey along with her friends and Yahto Veli, the nark. Too late she realizes her selfish entreaty has thrown the entire outcome of the prophecy itself into question and endangered everyone. Uncertainties mount between Darcy and her companions as they fight their way through enemy territory to locate the Oracle, and an unwelcome visitor from Cedar Cove adds a layer of mystery that none of them are prepared for.
But the perils of the quest are nothing when compared to what lies in wait for her in the lair of the Oracle. There is a cost associated with every question asked– a cost that may be far greater than Darcy is willing to pay. And someone may choose to make the ultimate sacrifice to free her from it.
The Oracle begins with Darcy’s incredible impatience as her family prepares to return to Cedar Cove Family Camp, and immediately the difference in Darcy is clear. While last year she had dreaded the camp and didn’t have a nice thing to say about it at all, this year she is brimming with excitement. What follows is a magical year in the world of Alitheia, where Darcy and her five friends work together to unravel the mysteries that bind them together. The book chronicles an epic adventure for the kids and I am glad I read it!
One of the things that prevented me from enjoying the sequel, The Six, was Darcy’s character, and while I still find her a little too self-centred and short-sighted, she has improved a lot since we last saw her. I can now see her as a good leader of her band of friends, and believe she will grow into the role as her confidence and experience grows. Although the causes a lot of the trouble in the book (again) by invoking the Oracle, I admire the way she stepped up to deal with the outcomes. The story in The Oracle focusses a lot on Darcy herself, and I feel I lost the opportunity to witness the growth of the other characters. We do, however, get to see the Prince Tellius a lot more, and he strikes me as quite a likeable character. With the series due to span six books, I hope a romance will eventuate between him and Darcy.
The world created by Hoyle is amazing and I welcomed returning to it. The narks continue to be the most intriguing set of characters, especially Yahto Veli. Although the day nark, Veli, has always had a good relationship with Darcy, I liked the development of Darcy and Yahto’s bond throughout the book. The other character I really liked is The Oracle, who is creepy in the extreme! Although it is only physically present for the small portion of the book, the inherent evil it embodies is cleverly foreshadowed.
With a lot of the clumsiness of world-building out of the way for the sequel, Hoyle provides a more enjoyable book (for me at least) in The Oracle than she did with The Six. I am glad I stuck with the series, and look forward to reading the rest of it! I want to note that while at the moment it is focussing on fourteen year olds, the series will follow this group of friends until they are eighteen or nineteen, so I expect the books to transition soon between the MG and YA genres.
About the book: