5 Star Review
Reviewed By Steven Robson for Readers’ Favorite
Herlot of Alonia by Maria Rosestone is without a doubt a classic tale reminiscent of the wondrous adventures of The Lord Of The Rings. Steeped in the small kingdom of Eraska, we fall under the spell of Herlot, her family, friends, and the magical creatures that surround her, as she grows up in a land where riches are measured by the contents of souls, and gold is taboo to all. This is a land where the breath of mystery kisses the chill air, open hearths glow in the reflection of homely hearts, and the magic of times lost touches those worthy. Only evil can shatter this paradise, and it snakes into Eraska, driven by King Felix of the kingdom of Isolda, who is twisted by a desire to overthrow Ipta, the most powerful empire known. When this plague descends on Herlot’s village of Alonia, her life is inexorably changed as she is carried through despair and horror, on a journey to save her people and restore the freedom of her country.
Maria Rosestone’s Herlot of Alonia is one of those rare gems that instills in the reader a rarefied state of paradox; torn between wanting to discover the story’s secrets and equally not wanting the tale to end. The pages of this book literally crackle with wonder, gripping you in a vice you will be unable to shake. The flow of the plot is spot on, with perfect subplots that will allow you to experience the full scope of emotions. All of the characters are superbly molded, and rich in their differences and depth. I loved so many of them, and their relationships, particularly the potential triangle between Herlot, Movo, and Seum, which planted the seeds of infinite possibilities. There were other elements woven into the story that truly enhanced the atmosphere, including but not limited to, the introduction of Benyamin, the mystery surrounding Manni, and even the Rite of Passage. Ms. Rosestone has created a world that evokes a feeling of awe in me, incredulous that such words could emanate from one imaginative mind.
This debut fantasy sees a girl surrounded by strange happenings grow up and confront a vile king.
In the village of Alonia, Agatha the midwife traditionally delivers children in her home. And yet Ilvy’s pregnancy has been an odd one, in which the baby sometimes seems to telepathically communicate with the woman, making requests. Instead of giving birth with Agatha’s help, Ilvy is compelled to do so beneath the willow trees. The baby, Herlot, is a healthy girl. But her odd entrance into the world forever marks her an outsider. At the age of 5, she plays hide-and-seek with uncanny precision, as if a ghost tells her exactly where her playmates are. In the woods one day, she meets Devotio, a unicorn, a magical beast she adores. He promises to visit her “every twelve moons” in secret if she promises to never tell anyone he exists. Eventually her older brother, Ambro, finds out and shares in her delight. Yet as the siblings grow up, Ambro tells Herlot that they invented Devotio. Herlot lives with this disenchantment until she is 18. She resolves to become a steward for King Cloudian, who has made his kingdom of Eraska unique by banning gold. Greedy King Felix of Isolda, meanwhile, hopes to rule all. Rosestone’s coming-of-age saga relies on sweeping character arcs and only light touches of magic, not unlike T.H. White’s The Once and Future King (1958). The story is sometimes inspired by real-life historical events, specifically the death of Native Americans from smallpox, which helps push Herlot into the heroic spotlight. An outbreak of “crowpox” affects villagers in Alonia and creates ugly chaos but also returns Devotio to Herlot’s life and rekindles her faith in the unseen. The unicorn tells her: “No matter what happens, the stars can see you....You’re never alone.” The need for perseverance is equally intense for Movo, Cloudian’s own son whom Felix imprisoned. In this series opener, the author superbly conveys the power of childhood magic in the narrative’s first half as well as the adolescent questioning that may or may not spark a renewal of creative powers in the second. A daring finale should rouse fans for the sequel.
Beneath the medieval drama, this fantasy skillfully addresses life’s grandest dilemmas.
5 Star Review
Reviewed By Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers’ Favorite
Herlot of Alonia by Maria Rosestone is a medieval epic fantasy novel and it tells of the adventures of Herlot, the reluctant magician. The first book in a trilogy, the tale introduces the main protagonist of the story, a girl born under a willow tree in the forest of Alonia. Considered a bad omen in her village, a unicorn becomes her only friend and she enters a magical world. Realizing her magic brings her suffering and isolation, Herlot loses her power at a time when it is sorely needed. In the search for the ultimate source of magic, King Felix takes over her village, causes an epidemic, and Herlot is forced to resort to her magic. The quest for survival begins and it is fascinating.
Maria Rosestone's Herlot of Alonia is a magical roller coaster ride into a world that is gripping, entertaining, and compelling. No one can resist this girl born under unusual circumstances and rejected by her village. It is easy to fall in love with Herlot and gladly accompany her on her life's journey. And you will not be disappointed because it is a marvelous journey of rejection, insecurity, struggle, friendship, love, strength, confusion, compassion, and determination. King Felix, her antagonist, on the other hand, is a person we love to hate, but still, it is easy to relate to him. The prince and the two Iptan warriors enhance the list of characters in this medieval fantasy novel that will leave its readers enthusiastically waiting for the next installments.
5 Star Review
Reviewed By Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite
Herlot of Alonia by Maria Rosestone is an epic fantasy filled with magic, and tremendous strength. Herlot’s life was laced with magic, even at birth. Being born with “special abilities” made her a pariah in her little community of Alonia, even if her parents loved her. Just because she was born in the forest, people considered her a bad omen and avoided her. As she grew older, she learned to make a place for herself in the village. However, her dreams of a stable life are pushed aside when her village is taken over by King Felix. That man is looking for the source of magic and he is not beyond using any means to get what he wants. Suddenly, Herlot is thrust into shouldering a responsibility she didn’t think she was capable of fulfilling. Herlot has to believe in magic, she has to harness her powers and find a way to save her people along with protecting the magic she has been given. Can she trust anyone offering help? Can she do it all?
Epic fantasies don’t usually resonate well with me, mainly because I don’t find a connection with the protagonists. This was not the case with Herlot. I formed a connection with her quite easily and enjoyed her reactions. Herlot is a little unsure and hesitant, but she isn’t afraid to delve a little deeper into the magical world. I felt her emotions and confusion. The buildup of the story is great, the atmosphere is perfect for the plot and the characters are well-fleshed out. The universe building was on point and done perfectly. The author added substance to the story, giving readers just enough of a nudge to read on and not put the book down. I really enjoyed how the author introduced characters, there was almost a fanfare with certain characters and then there was a feeling of lightness when she introduced the protagonist. This is a special novel, one that lays the perfect foundation for the series. Herlot of Alonia by Maria Rosestone is a great origin story for a character that will be loved by many readers!
5 Star Review
Reviewed By Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite
Herlot of Alonia by Maria Rosestone is a novel for fans of fantasy with magical creatures and strong characters. Born in strict compliance with Alonia’s birthing tradition, Herlot quickly develops a fondness for willow trees. She is an unusual child with unique abilities, but she is not liked by the people of her village who think her magic is a bad sign. Feeling rejected, she becomes friends with a unicorn. She revels in a magical world that defines her reason. In adulthood, a mad king, Felix, seeking magical power to conquer the Ipta, invades her village. As his unspeakable acts ravage the village, she is saved by the unicorn. But the magic is in danger as are her own people. It is time for her to use her magic and accomplish this mission, but is it real?
This is a beautiful novel that both young readers and adults will adore. The author creates a world that has its own life and that follows unique rules. The description of the birthing rite and the unique relationship the protagonist develops with willows is just one of the elements that highlight the imagination of the author. Images like the rocking and singing leaves with inviting arms are gorgeous. The prose is magical, crisp, and pleasing. It is interesting to follow the young protagonist, reveling in a magical world and suffering rejection at the same time. Her developmental arc is skillfully written and, as an adult, she is filled with doubt. Can she trust her magic, the young prince and the warriors offering help? Herlot of Alonia is an engaging story with great potential to entertain fans of fantasy.
5 Star Review
Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite
Herlot of Alonia is a work of fiction in the medieval style fantasy sub-genre and was penned by author Maria Rosestone. Written for mature readers, the work contains themes of assisted suicide and some instances of graphic violence. The opening novel to a new trilogy of swords and sorcery, we find ourselves in the land of Eraska, where a terrible curse has plagued the nation. The titular character Herlot has always been a special child, but just as she reaches adulthood, invaders come to her land and her friends and family are in sudden, deep danger. Along with those dubious souls she meets along the way, Herlot must embark upon a quest not just to save them, but to put right the wrongs of the entire world around her.
Author Maria Rosestone has crafted a truly enchanting novel that encompasses everything that a traditional fantasy tale ought to have but also expands into so much more of an emotive coming of age tale. One of the things that I liked about it was the way Rosestone blends modern themes and more current emotional issues into the pseudo-medieval timeline, blending the fantasy period with realistic modern emotions that readers can relate to. Herlot is a fantastic ingenue for this tale, given room to experience, grow, and make mistakes as she faces seemingly impossible odds from the get-go. It results in an inspiring and engaging tale that is pure magic on every page. Overall, I’d highly recommend Herlot of Alonia for fantasy fans everywhere.