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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Return to Isle of the Shallows is a fantasy novel for young adults and penned by author Debra A White. A coming of age tale like no other, this engaging story follows youngster Drew Barret as he combats a problem with anger management. Suspended and forced to move to a new school, Drew is a trouble magnet with, it seems, no future, but when a mythical beast kidnaps him and takes him to another world, he has no choice but to grow up very quickly. Facing real-world problems, destiny and the ways of Aqualor, Drew learns what it means to take control of himself amid fantastical creatures and places he could never have dreamed of.
What particularly struck me about the work that author Debra A White puts into her storytelling is the seamless way that social lessons and personal issues weave into the fantasy plot, with important teaching moments hidden in plain sight amid beasts and battles. Drew is an interesting central character, with obvious flaws and emotional issues that are not often discussed, particularly by leading male characters in fantasy novels, yet nothing about this novel feels like a lecture. It is very much an exciting and engaging fantasy tale, with atmospheric locations, action-packed peril, and amazing creatures and races to learn about and engage with. Overall, Return to Isle of the Shallows is a compelling and exciting novel for teen readers and above, but one which also leaves you with some thought-provoking questions and answers.