Reviewed by Jamelia Williams
Fantasy novels are oftentimes tales about those gifted with immense power, usually told by themselves. Unreachable Skies: Vol. 1 by Karen McCeedy is unlike any novel I’ve ever read. It’s one of the first stories where the hero is born at a disadvantage. Dru, the son of the Prime, is one of the many Drax who was born without wings. However, it has been foretold that he will be the one to defeat the Drax’s enemies, the Koth. This Story is told by Zarda, the one who saw Dru’s future, the Fate-Seer of the Drax. Although she is indeed gifted with the power of sight, many do not give her the respect of her predecessors because of the way she acquired the role. Especially the Prime, ruler of the Drax people, Kalis. Though one may think he consults the Oracle for advice, it seems that someone else has a much closer relationship with his highness.
For those that are hatched wingless, you see that because of their deformity, rather than be treated with love and compassion, they are treated as if they are cursed. As if they have brought misfortune to the Drax people. The only ones who have compassion are those who have wingless children. Unfortunately, this is one of the ways the book brings us back to the real world. Most people do not think of differences in people as something to be considered or care about until it is directly affecting them. Those with perfectly working wings choose to spread rumors of the wingless, as we have a tendency to fear what we don’t understand.
McCreedy has excellent world-building skills and it shows throughout this story. When you read this, you’re transported to another world. You have no choice but to leave everything you once thought you knew behind in order to truly understand this story. From the characters themselves to the setting. McCreedy’s descriptiveness makes you feel as if you’re standing in the middle of the Drax’s homeland. My personal favorite is the description of flight. Here we can only fly on an airplane or if you’re Elon, you can maybe fly on one of your spaceships. We will never truly be able to take flight unassisted. We do, however, get to experience a small portion of what that might feel like in this story. It gives us an opportunity to feel that cold chill of the winter atmosphere, that thrill you get when you drop out of the sky as if you were on a roller coaster, the freedom to fly however high and far that your heart desires.
Unreachable Skies is the beginning of Dru’s story just as much as it’s a new chapter of Zarda’s life. It is a story of change on the premise of a better future. You may believe that because it is a story that deals with deformity due to a plague, it is a somber tale of rebuilding what was lost. However, it is anything but, Dru is not only unbothered by his wingless status, but he is also arguably braver than many of the winged children. He is the type of boy who fights for his friends tooth and nail, and is unafraid to climb to the top of the highest mountain and shout “I made it!”. You will quickly come to find out that it is not Dru who does not believe in himself, rather it is the adults around him. Those who have grown knowing nothing but flight, nothing but tradition, nothing but normality.
Which is arguably in itself flawed. It is absolutely absurd for one to complete the same task with the same steps, in the same order, over and over again in expectation of a different result. Even in the more simplistic aspects of life like playing cards, if you use the same strategy with the same people over and over again you become predictable, and it is unlikely you will win. Success lies in the unknown, the secret ace up your sleeve, the joker that the dealer just so happened to give to you. Success lies in change, and Dru is the perfect vessel for that change. Undaunted by the words of those around him, unbothered by the smells of disdain that arise when he enters the room, unbothered by his own father’s lack of acceptance, Dru is a playful, smart, kind, and strong boy with a desire to protect his people from those who have attacked them for so long.
Despite being so young in comparison to her predecessors, Zarda is not one with a weak constitution. She is unafraid to speak her mind to defend the wingless and is quick to give a quick whip or smart retort to those who think to disrespect her and/or her title. She is often simply looking for the answers, whether they be shown to her in the Dream Cave or by a random act of chance. She is a kind soul who wants the best for her people and understands the plights of those wingless and those injured or scared. This means that she will do whatever it takes, including taking matters into her own hands in order to protect the future.
The first installment of the Unreachable Skies Series, Volume 1 is the perfect opening. It builds the world around you so that you may experience life in another world firsthand. It makes you care not only about the main characters well-being, but the friends they’ve made along the way as well. You’ll come to find yourself cherishing the relationships that have been built and cursing the ones who treat Zarda and Dru with anything less than respect. You’ll be following the story closely then pushed to the edge of your seat at the very end, left wanting to know more about the fate of our protagonists. It is a gateway to a world unlike any I’ve ever known, and I highly recommend you take the first step in.