The Garden at the Roof of the World
This historical fiction has been set up to read like a historical manuscript, complete with footnotes by the “translator” and definitions to assist “researchers” in deciphering certain words. While this unique format creates a historical atmosphere, the story itself is clearly pure fiction. Set in a fantastical 13th century setting, several young women set out on a quest to save a dying unicorn. With the assistance of a younger unicorn, Britomar, the women must figure out where the Garden of Eden exists, and how to get there. Their goal is to find the fruit that Eve ate, which will heal the unicorn. Each woman has her own ulterior motives for taking on this quest, from love and romance to revenge and redemption. Their journey spans continents, and involves danger and challenges that ultimately examine their very souls. Each woman undertakes different challenges and personal missions that test her loyalty, faith, chastity, and fortitude.
With demons, yetis, giant sea creatures, and other terrors, nonstop action keeps the pace fast. In fact, at times, it felt like there was nothing to the plot other than vicious attacks by evil creatures. Nevertheless, the people the women meet along the way and the search for the garden intrigued me. I appreciated the different tenor of this novel; the fantasy and mysticism created a new perspective on old religious accounts, and the ultimate story is one of friendship, love and bravery.