________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 12. . . .November 20, 2015


Del Ryder and the Crystal Seed.

Matthew David Brough.
Winnipeg, MB: www.MattBrough.com, 2015.
236 pp., trade pbk., $14.99.
ISBN 978-0-9947-8131-4.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Julianne Mutimer.

** /4



Del felt Phil’s grip on her hand tighten. The darkness felt like nothing Del had felt before. It was as if she wasn’t anywhere. It was a very odd and somewhat dreadful feeling, because one simply is not used to being nowhere. There was the sense that in being nowhere you could almost choose to go anywhere you wished. Del tried to wish for where she’d like to go, but wasn’t quite sure where that would be. Before she could think any further, they fell out of the total darkness. They were definitely somewhere- but where?


Del Ryder has her share of troubles: her mom’s endless string of boyfriends who consistently detract from her mother’s attention on Del, a group of friends who show her little respect, and a contentious relationship with her older sister all make Del’s life – although not that different from many kids her age – somewhat difficult. As a means of escape, Del and her three male friends play a lot of imaginary games in the local churchyard until one day they stumble upon the crystal seed – a kind of portal into another world – and suddenly they are transported to the world of Azdia, and there is adventure at every turn. Del and her friends are put to the test: they must help the citizens of Azdia and try to make their way home, but what if they have to choose between the two?

     Told from Del’s perspective, Del Ryder and the Crystal Seed is, in many ways, a coming-of-age novel but diverges from the typical tropes of this genre in that it has a more spiritual overtone to it. Indeed, Matthew David Brough, himself, is a pastor and suggests that many of the themes of the story are Christian ones. Additionally, it is always refreshing when a strong female heroine emerges as a leader as opposed to her three male counterparts. Del’s voice is authentic and thoughtful, although, at times, this character feels underdeveloped – one dimensional and lacking complexity. The pace of the novel feels circuitous at times and becomes weighed down by details of the fantasy setting that are divulged in a rather unsophisticated way. Brough admits to being influenced by C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia”, and certainly Del Ryder and the Crystal Seed carries some of the same flavours of Lewis’ classic, such as alternate worlds, a team of children, and many fantastical creatures; however, this novel may be a hard sell to more experienced fantasy readers, and it may not maintain the interest of less experienced ones in that it often enthusiastically over-divulges details that slow the momentum of the events in the story. Still, there is a potential small audience of readers in those who are more patient and are looking for a fantasy experience that is gentle and unique; however, Del Ryder and the Crystal Seed is not recommended as a classroom read-aloud due to its lack of universal appeal. As the first in a series, there is potential for the characters and the world of Azdia to develop further. Del Ryder and the Crystal Seed is certainly an ambitious first novel. Make a bit of space for it on library and classroom shelves, but recommend it to the right reader.

Recommended with Reservations.

Julianne Mutimer is a children’s librarian with Surrey Libraries in Surrey, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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ISSN 1201-9364
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