The Silk Road
The Silk Road
Lucy’s curiosity was thoroughly aroused by now, and she quietly rose from her bed of boughs. Testing her leg and finding it sore but usable, she decided to follow Yidi to see what he was up to. She wasn’t happy with Yidi, but she remembered the eels all too well, and she didn’t want any actual harm to come to him.
Yidi came to a stop in front of a large flat tree stump, and Lucy edged around a bush to get as clear a view as she could while keeping out of Yidi’s sight.
Yidi rummaged around in his satchel, then placed some objects on the stump. He used the flaming branch to light a small stick that soon glowed red at the tip. A moment later the scent of incense wafted toward her.
Lucy strained to see past Yidi’s bulky kneeling figure to what he had placed on the stone. She grew very still as he began to speak in a low voice. “I’m trying to honor you. I really am, but nothing seems to be going right. Can you help, please? I’m so afraid.”
He knelt there listening to the wind in the leaves and the faint crackles and pops of the makeshift torch. Finally he rocked back on his heels before stumbling to his feet, wiping at his cheeks. Before he swiped them from the stump, Lucy identified the photos she had seen on his table back in his room,
He brought his parents [sic] plaques with him?
Dee is desperate to find his missing parents; Lucy longs for adventure and an escape from a predictable lifestyle. One day, the friends are enticed to a rocky area leading to a Silk Road and a mysterious kingdom. The guardian of these rocks promises to fulfill their desires providing they journey through the Kingdom of Sericea to provide Yidi, the young Emperor, with companionship until he comes of age to rule. Accepting the mission, Lucy and Dee undergo a journey both magical and fearful to reach Yidi, becoming aware as they travel that all is not well in the land. Yidi is a disappointment, surly, arrogant and dominated by his evil stepmother, XiXi, who plans to usurp Yidi’s power and the kingdom’s wealth. Fearing for Yidi’s safety, the children decide to take Yidi to their own home. But the return journey is fraught with terrible danger as XiXi uses her evil resources attempting to destroy them.
This fast-paced story sweeps readers from one adventure to another as they root for the young, only too human but courageous protagonists as they traverse an unknown land replete with magical creatures, both good and evil. The children are resourceful, their innate characteristics influencing their responses to challenges. Lucy is outgoing, quick thinking but impulsive; Dee scientific, deliberate and analytical. Yidi, initially insensitive and unpleasant, grows into a more resourceful and sympathetic character as circumstances require. Benevolent supernatural creatures, like the horse-like Xami, translator worms, a firebird and a dragon-whisperer who aid the children vie with demonical beings that include a vicious tiger and spiders the size of elephants, all determined to thwart them at every turn.
Having captured readers’ involvement so effectively, it is disappointing there is no immediate resolution to this otherwise gripping story. The finale reveals them taking stock and optimistically regrouping for another attempt to reach home. Presumably, there’s a sequel in the making.
Fantasy lovers will enjoy The Silk Road, an energetic adventure story replete with resilient young heroes who overcome their fears in an imaginative and compelling battle of good over evil.
Aileen Wortley is a retired children’s librarian from Toronto, Ontario.