This book was reviewed for Reader’s Favourite
Neer’s Elixir of Freedom is a journey of discovery for young Ravi. His brother is kidnapped and forced to work for the Mine Master, digging coal. Following the guidance of old legends, Ravi sets out to find the ‘Heart of the Sun’, and free his brother from the mines. His goal is to hopefully talk sense into the Mine Master, getting him to free the people captured to work in the mines, and to do something about the smoke polluting the towns close to the mine. Along the way, Ravi gets help from several people, from the peddler Gleme, to the Forest Guardians, to a dwarf named Nuri.
Fun stuff: I loved that this story uses the Indian saga of the Ramayana for its inspiration. So many books like this use Christian themes, which gets old after a while. All spiritualities and religions have valuable lessons to impart, usually along a very similar vein. One of the biggest lessons in this novel is the notion of living and working in harmony with nature. I also learned something I didn’t know, namely that a substance called coke is made from coal, and is used for heating homes and efficiently running steam engines. The word ‘coke’ kept coming up in odd contexts, so, of course I had to go look it up. Haha, who knew 😛
I read this story to my cubs, ranging in age from 6- 14. They all enjoyed it, but it was the youngest who most adored it, suggesting to me it is best geared towards ‘tweens’. A seven to twelve age range. Their favourite parts were when Ravi and Verda had to confront illusions while traveling in the misty swamp, and when the pair found the Heart of the Sun. The kids made the rather astute observation that people need the strength of others in order to best overcome adversity. Alone, Ravi and Verda could not overcome their illusions, but they helped one another do so.
Not so fun stuff: As an adult reader, there were times when the writing seemed too ‘simple’, and sometimes too wooden. Ravi’s challenges never seemed that great, or challenging. The characters’ Indian names did not mesh well with the very British sounding village names, in my mind at least. The kids either didn’t notice or didn’t care, except for serious Ben. As an adult, something else that seemed jolting to the story flow was the use of dozens of different dialogue tags. Declared, surmised, pondered, continued, responded, interrupted, added, praised, proposed, smiled, and growled are just a tiny fraction of those used. Some did not make sense either. You cannot smile words. A few uncommon tags scattered throughout would have been better, with a healthy mix of said and asked. A hundred different tags can be confusing.
All that being said, Elixir was still a fun read, especially for the kids. Seeing their enjoyment as we read the story, well, that’s something priceless, that is. If you, or your kids, like movies like Warriors of Virtue, or The Neverending Story, or the books of CS Lewis, be sure to check out MR Neer’s Elixir of Freedom!