The Fog of Forgetting by G. A. Morgan – Retro Review by Melissa Guerrette
I confess: Fantasy novels often get stuck in my Someday book stack.
No matter how many of my Nerdy friends profess their love for fantasy novels like The Chronicles of Narnia or how emphatically they recommend A Wrinkle in Time, delving into another world that expects me to leave behind the constructs I am comfortable with and accustomed to often presents as more reading “work” than I might choose. Not that it should…but it does.
That said, The Fog of Forgetting, the first book of The Five Stones Trilogy, recently escaped my oft-skipped collection of fantasy novels. G. A. Morgan deserves every bit of praise she has received for worldbuilding in her writing. The thorough description of the island setting as well as the allure of loyalties and suspicions of betrayal had me page-turning with a need to know the eventual fates of the characters of whom I grew fond.
Take Chase, the eldest of a group of children lured to Ayda across The Fog of Forgetting. He wants so badly to prove himself worthy of responsibility and is equally at a loss of understanding about what purpose he serves to the inhabitants of Ayda, and to his group. Or Evelyn, the elder girl who has been worn by the adversity of natural disasters, loss, and relocation, yet functions with an unsinkable spirit and earned fierceness. Or the long-ago-shipwrecked sailor Seaborne who serves as a trusted advisor and mentor to the children as they navigate the unknown.
It is under the weight of disappointment, guilt, and pressure to measure up as a defender of himself and his siblings that Chase boards the family boat, The Whaler, with his younger brothers (Knox and Teddy) and two new neighbors (Evelyn and Frankie), dismissing the orders of their protective mother to stay on shore. Soon, the boat is threatened by the dense, encroaching fog. Despite their best efforts to outrun the fog, The Whaler shipwrecks and the young adolescents find themselves on the strange and mystical island of Ayda.
But as the story continues, this young group (and their reader) begins to accept that the fog and the shipwreck were not an accident, but a manipulated snare by the inhabitants of Ayda. But why? How were these outsiders–Outliers–lured through the fog and what purpose will they serve?
Chapter by chapter, question by question, the legends of Ayda are revealed.
The island of Ayda is divided into four lands, each named for an ancient stone: Melor, Metria, Varuna, and Exor. Before the Weaver broke the atar into the four qualities and foundations of all life: earth, water, wind/air, and fire, the four stones along with an elusive Fifth Stone were all one. Four siblings were appointed as a Keeper of each stones and their realm, entrusted to safeguard and protect the stone and land they were given.
Yet, there is unrest on Ayda and has been since the Great Battle in which the Keeper of Exor was overtaken and fragmented by Dankar. Dankar, power-hungry and self-serving, longs for greater control–and the five stones–while the three remaining siblings strive to maintain balance of the stones. As happens in time, the strengths–the daylights–of the Keepers are weakening, and to keep harmony is more and more a feat. The arrival of Chase and his fellow “Outliers” from beyond the protective Fog of Forgetting rouses hope for the Keepers, though each for their own purposes and unbeknownst to Chase and his team.
The Outliers confront the powers and the elements of Ayda’s four distinct regions in their quest for for survival, sensemaking, and a return home.
The Fog of Forgetting is thick with mystery, adventure, and fantasy. The conflict brewing on Ayda holds readers’ attention while detecting clues about the roles the Outliers will play in resolving the island’s unrest. Adventure awaits the reader with plotted action and inevitable risk at every turn of the page.
Many wisdoms offered by the elders of Ayda are layered throughout the text, like this one from Seaborne: “If you persist in only looking at what is on the surface and not seeing, you will never find your way.” (84)
I’ve been guilty of sidelining fantasy novels, it’s true. However, after journeying through the Fog, I’m looking forward to continuing The Five Stones Trilogy. The Fog of Forgetting has become a complex work I am happy to recommend.
The Fog of Forgetting is the first book in The Five Stones Trilogy by G. A. Morgan. In the second book, Chantarelle, Chase must cope the effects of his time spent on Ayda and take action in the charge he was issued by the Keepers. The trilogy concludes with Morgan’s most recent book, The Kinfolk, which releases next week (10/25/16).
For more information about G. A. Morgan and the Five Stones Trilogy, visit her website: http://ga-morgan.com/. Also, to learn more about The Kinfolk, follow The Kinfolk blogtour beginning on Monday, 10/24, at http://www.pragmaticmom.com/
Melissa Guerrette is a 5th grade Humanities teacher in Oxford, Maine. Her professional passion is empowering students and helping them uncover their individuality–as readers, as writers, and as people–for themselves. Melissa is working steadily to conquer her TBR stacks *and* read across book gaps. You can follow Melissa on Twitter at @guerrette79 or visit her blog at www.melissaguerrette.blogspot.com.