Albina (2nd Edition)

A Windflower Saga Novella

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
150 Pages
Reviewed on 02/11/2019
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Author Biography

Aleksandra Layland is a retired civil engineer and federal civil servant who worked primarily for the United States Air Force as a senior installation engineering manager responsible for buildings, airfields, infrastructure, fire protection, and emergency preparedness. She also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Western Caroline Islands where she helped build school classrooms and cafeterias, low-income housing, and simple village water distribution systems. Retired now, she lives in Florida.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Albina: A Windflower Saga Novella by Aleksandra Layland is a highly relatable Young Adult fantasy novel. The main character Albina is of mixed race, and that isn't all that sets her apart from most people in the Industrial Age. She's intelligent, has a keen interest in science and chemistry--unusual for a young woman of that time--and is a twin. Her studies lead her away from home, where she has the opportunity to connect with her indigenous roots, her faith, and who she really is. Besides the drama of these things unfolding, she discovers romance and begins to realize the true meaning of love. This story has a lot of heart and soul and stands out for its individuality and ability to connect with YA audiences.

Layland's choice to use Albina's point of view to tell the story was a wise one. It instantly draws you into the character's mindset, emotions, motivations, hopes, dreams, and uncertainty. There is an immediacy to the first-person perspective that really works here. I like that the author has Albina in a non-traditional female role. The plot places emphasis on family, societal expectations, and making choices that are right for you. The theme of genealogy helps the reader get to know the family history from the other books, and actually piques your interest in reading them.

Albina is a very likable character, empathetic and wise for such a young soul. The author's commentary at the beginning is very helpful, there are images that add another layer to the story, and you will find yourself wishing it was a bit longer. Yet, it doesn't feel rushed or too short. It's just that you want to hear more from this character, and, when the book is over, you feel as if you're saying goodbye to a new friend. Albina: A Windflower Saga Novella by Aleksandra Layland is a charismatic book YA audiences will fall in love with.

Lesley Jones

Albina by Aleksandra Layland is set in the historical fantasy land of Pomerania, where Albina, the only daughter of Lord and Lady Kennet, is unlike her siblings. She is not only intelligent but can see her late grandmothers who guide her onto the right path in life. On her first day at school, she and her twin brother encounter prejudice for the first time, because of their mixed-race heritage. It is only her family's royal ancestry that ensures she is accepted. As Albina grows up, it is clear that she will not be following her culture's expectations of marrying at 16, but instead she pursues her passion of science, gained from her father’s side. Albina always strives to live in accordance with her culture, but then she meets Denis. Although there is instant chemistry, she realizes there is another part of her heritage she knows little about. Albina dreams of opening her own laboratory one day but that may be threatened when a charming professor enters her life.

I thought the way the author has written Albina’s story in the first person was a great idea, as we see inside this character's beautiful soul. Although set in the fictitious land of Pomerania, the subjects covered so sensitively could also be related to today’s society. There are life lessons throughout this novella regarding prejudice and the importance of accepting people based on their hearts and intentions. I thought the relationship between Albina and Denis was a true meeting of mind and souls. The arrogant personality of the professor was subtle but perfect. This story has everything I look for: well-constructed characters that you would love to meet, an enchanting setting, and a plot that makes you ponder long after the final page is turned. I really didn’t want the story to end and I think now I will have to read more books in the Windflower Saga.