Zerah’s Chosen by Isabelle Santiago
Publisher: Drollerie Press
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (200 pgs)
Rating: 4 suns
Reviewed by Aloe
In Zerah, Guardians of Water, Air, Fire, Earth, and Death are chosen by The Beings to serve their people. Able to feel the emotions the Beings cannot, they help their world stay in balance.
Guardians live and die together, but when Kieran is born with the marks that prove he’s the Guardian of Death, his mother hides him instead of giving him up to the temple. She loves him too much to lose him. But then he starts seeing people die, and they’re begging him for help. Trying to remove the “curse”, he inadvertently kills a seer and is brought to the attention of the temple.
His mother is imprisoned and he’s turned over to the temple. The rest of his life, he’s expected to live there, study with the other Guardians, learn the right ways to use his power.
Amaya, the embodiment of Water, breaks through his brittle shell, helps him to see that all of life isn’t bleak, but they’ve sworn a vow and love for one another isn’t part of it. He’ll never know the people he must eventually lead into the next life, never know love, never be free.
If he stays…
If you are born with certain markings on your body and a magic power, then you are one of Zerah’s chosen. You have no choice…
I found this book fascinating because it was about an old world that had a lot of history. The books were stored in the temple and only a select few were able to have access to them. Many of the books were written in languages from the past, and had to be painstakingly translated by the priests. The high priest found some of the text was hard to understand, but he thought he was interpreting it correctly. The words foretold a coming disaster, and he was determined to avoid it.
Normally, the guardians were gathered at a very young age and brought to the temple to be trained for their new roles in life. The four presently in the temple were self-assured, strong, and each has his or her own unique outlook on life depending partially on their power as well as their personalities. They need to learn to control their powers, use their skills and work together to be the guardians of their world. You can feel the responsibility they have been saddled with.
However, they get thrown a curve when a “new” guardian is added to the mix. Kiernan had been hidden by his mother and not turned over to the temple so he had received no training. I can sympathize with Kiernan. He was raised with love and his power is death. He’s confused, grieves for the loss of his mother, feels guilty, and does not know how to bond with the other chosen ones. Nor is he sure he even wants to.
Ms Santiago’s characters are strong, well-defined and determined to do the right thing. They have conflicts, there is jealousy, there is hate, and there is love. And that causes another conflict because the chosen must be celibate…
This is Book I of the Guardian Circle, so there will be more in this series. The ending in this one will leave you yearning for the next book – how could that happen and where they will go from here? This novel is an exciting read with just enough magic to make intriguing and enough challenges for the chosen to make you want to follow along through the next life changing event with them.