Enlightenment

Book One of the Bathala Series

Fiction - Paranormal
296 Pages
Reviewed on 03/07/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Reno Ursal, author of The Bathala Series, grew up in Rogers City, Michigan and received a B.A. in English from The University of Michigan. The son of Filipino immigrants who worked in the small Northern Michigan town as doctors, Reno found refuge in reading English classics written by Shakespeare, Jules Verne, C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain. At Michigan, he became exposed to more authors like Maxine Hong Kingston, Peter Bacho and Amy Tan. While his English classes Enlightened his literary repertoire, he became a fixture in Ann Arbor & Detroit at nightclubs and on the radio! In 1996, he received the U-M Lifetime Achievement Award for his involvement in the Filipino American & Asian Pacific American community. His work with Fil-Am and Hmong youth is one of his proudest moments at Michigan.

After college, he moved to the SF Bay Area where he met his wife, Lynette, while working for indie music label Classified Records. They settled in Mountain House, California where he is the high school girls Varsity basketball coach. He started writing The Bathala Series while in Mountain House, inspired by his niece's life story. His Filipino American writer's voice is new in Young Adult paranormal fiction, a voice representing thousands of Filipinos living in the shadows of America. Knowing that the Fil-Am population is not a monolith, The Bathala Series combines the forgotten pre-Spanish history of the Philippines with modern-day fantasy elements of the Young Adult paranormal genre. Enlightenment is Book One of a scheduled seven book series!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Dan M. Kalin for Readers' Favorite

Reno Ursal has produced a rare type of tale with Enlightenment, one with a fictional story line told over historical details which teach the reader things they didn't previously know. The story is told mostly from the perspective of two people; Dorothy Dizon, a high school senior soon to graduate, and Adrian Rosario, the mysterious new student from the Philippines who is much more than he appears. Drawn inexorably to Adrian and his first-hand knowledge of their shared Filipino heritage, Dorothy must decide whom she can trust. Other forces want Dorothy for their own purposes and will stop at nothing to attain them. At each stage there are historical and cultural references to explain the antecedents to the coming crisis, putting the entire situation into the larger context of good versus evil.

I found the best parts of the story to be the cultural wrappings Reno Ursal sprinkled so generously throughout the tale. Being able to learn something of Filipino cultural history while reading a tale of the paranormal was a real treat for me. A new (or perhaps an old) version of the vampire legend is told against that backdrop. Enlightenment builds multiple story threads and tension to a crescendo before resolving some of the mysteries presented. The print book is beautifully formatted, with ancient Filipino text and references in the event a reader wants to learn more. The two primary characters are well developed and, by the end of the book, completely familiar to the reader. I'm looking forward to the next installments of the Bathala Series.