Title: Eye of the Crystal Ball
Author: T.P. Boje
When Sara was just a newborn baby, her parents left her on the doorstep of the Schneider family. It was during World War II, when Romani people were being persecuted and murdered by the thousands, and Sara’s family wanted to make sure she grew up safely. The Schneider’s had always wanted a baby, and they took her in right away. They loved her very much until they had triplets of their own and didn’t have the time or money for their adopted daughter. To make things worse, when Sara was about ten, she discovered that things moved when she was angry.
Two years later, Sara’s biological parents show up on the Schneider’s doorstep to reclaim their daughter, and Sara’s adoptive parents let her go without so much as a “how do we know you’re not mass murderers?” Sara quickly adjusts the traveling life of a Gypsy and her role as the daughter of the great leader of their tribe. She also manages to adjust to the fact that she is destined to fulfill a great prophecy one day. For a year, everything is going great for Sara. She finally fits in, is learning about her powers and other forms of magic, and becomes close to her long-lost parents. Then her baby brother is born and falls gravely ill, and Sara can’t rest until she finds a way to save him.
Against the foreboding warnings from her mother and grandmother, Sara opens a magical book and discovers that she must journey to find the Eye of the Crystal Ball, a device that will tell her exactly what she needs to do to save her brother. She is joined on her quest by Manolo, a young boy who isn’t exactly what he seems at first. Their quest takes them through treacherous realms filled with challenges designed to weed out the impure of heart. Sara falters frequently, but ultimately proves herself.
The magical landscape of The Eye of the Crystal Ball is really intriguing and fun. I enjoyed the trek through the forest of vanity, cave of lost souls, and other fantastical environments. Sara is what you would expect from a magical 13-year-old child. She’s impetuous, occasionally stubborn, but ultimately a good kid looking for a way to save her loved ones.
My main issues with the story were the grammatical and spelling errors, but considering that English is not Boje’s first language, I think she did fairly well. I also feel that the beginning of the book moves too fast, and it is unrealistic for anyone who has raised a child for 10 years to basically just say “pack your bags, your real parents are here!” I feel that the scene could have been made more realistic if the adoptive parents at least got teary-eyed and explained that, although they loved Sara very much, they couldn’t provide her with the kind of life her biological parents could or something like that. However, if you can suspend disbelief over the few flawed scenes, The Eye of the Crystal Ball is a rather fun magical adventure.