Title: Literally Life – Solara and the Talking Tree
Author: Hiago Furtado
Publication Date: July 23, 2023
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Length: 54 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 3 Stars
In a farm, far from the kingdom’s eyes, Solara, a lonely little girl who proclaims herself an enchanted princess, brings a nearby tree to life, even though her mother had previously forbidden her from using her powers, fearing they would label her as a witch. The tree, nicknamed by the girl as Mr. Tree, will have to discover its role in the world while maintaining a secret friendship with the little girl. Despite having enchanting powers, its disturbing origin and lack of control over them will bring forth various challenges.
And Solara, embittered by her mother’s disappearance, will try to have fun with Mr. Tree, telling him both epic and mind-bending stories, as well as tragic and macabre ones, in order to help him and teach him about his magical nature. In this chaotic journey, where unknown entities control nature and magical beings are persecuted by prejudice, the two will seek to discover if there is truly a place for fantasy in a world where their mere existence is considered a crime.
Content Warning: Death.
Magic isn’t a toy.
Some of my favourite scenes were the ones that compared Solara’s and Mr. Tree’s innocent wonder. They had far more in common with each other than one might originally think, and it was fun to take note of the myriad of ways in which a roughly ten-year-old human child and a tree that has only recently become sentient will have the same reaction when confronted with something new. I love picking out the commonalities between character who are otherwise quite different from each other, and I had plenty of opportunities to do that here.
The world building was confusing to me. Since Mr. Tree had a limited perspective on things due to him being a tree who couldn’t physically move around and who didn’t always understand human culture, his understanding of how magic worked in this world didn’t always translate well for me as a reader. I sometimes struggled to understand the logic of his thought processes or why certain scenes played out the way they did. As much as I wanted to give this a higher rating, I couldn’t due to how many times I had to stop and try to figure out what this character was describing.
With that being said, I enjoyed the creative risk Mr. Furtado took by making his main character a plant whose mind was quite different from the mind of the average person. It gave this tale a memorable twist and made me look at everything from chickens to fences to dreaming in new ways. This was my second time reading his work, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for what he might come up with next due to how much effort he puts into writing imaginative stories.
Literally Life – Solara and the Talking Tree made me smile.