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The Ether: Vero Rising, by Laurice Elehwany Molinari

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Laurice Elehwany Molinari, known for the critically acclaimed "My Girl" classic, introduces Vero Rising February 4th, the book that debuts "The Ether" series. It's an action-packed fantasy wrapped in the magical adventures of twelve-year-old Vero Leland reminiscent of the award winning "Harry Potter" books, a series I think readers of all ages will identify with and want more of.

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Vero lives with his parents and year-older sister, Clover in a typical Maryland suburb yet his compelling attraction to heights and flying is anything but typical and often gets him in trouble. Such as the time he climbed the ladder to the roof when he was four and deliberately fell "backwards," convinced he could fly. Instead, a "powerful force" caught him midair, lowered him to the ground and a voice said, "Vero, that's enough with the flying."

In time Vero discovers he's a fledging guardian angel destined to train in the land of Ether at a school named "Cathedral of Angels for Novice Development, Learning and Edification," known as C.A.N.D.L.E. He soon meets Ada, Pax, Xavier X, Kane and Greer, kids like him, who live normal earth lives until they find themselves traveling back and forth to the land of The Ether, a spiritual realm between heaven and hell populated by angels who train them and demons who intend to kill them.

Thus begin the exciting escapades of fledgling angels-in-training, taught by angels Raphel and Raziel and supervised by archangels Uriel and Michael. Join them as they learn to fly, usually from a running start, learn to recognize, listen for and trust "God's voice" and other extra sensory powers that include thought communication.

All of these attributes and more are needed when the group is challenged by the "Wicked One" and the "Malture's," demonic beings who do his bidding not to mention their battles with the Leviathan sea monster. Or when they find themselves in the "Pit of Acid" confronted by "Golems, huge, unthinking beings" only whispered about in centuries past. Yet all of these horrific beings pale when Vero comes face-to-face with Abaddon, king of the locust-like creatures who guard the bottomless pit from Revelation 9:11. His is the face of pure evil not unlike what Harry Potter faced.

While "Vero Rising" and "Harry Potter" series share similar other-worldly settings, characters and plots, their world-views are quite different. Harry's powers come from an unknown source in a narrative driven by magic, warlocks, witches, wizards and spell casting. Vero's world-view is Christian, his powers from God, and he's taught by guardian angels, warrior angels and fallen angels who prepare them to do battle with forces of good and evil.

Although I'm long-past the targeted age range of 9-12 I enjoyed every word, from the exceptional characterizations to the imaginative plot to the cliff-hanger chapter endings. The intense action and fast pace deliver an enjoyable story appropriate for all ages that also offers a Christian based alternative to those with objections to the dark arts of the Harry Potter series. Best of all, it's just good story telling and a serious contender for readers of Harry Potter.

The Ether: Vero Rising, an Ether Novel, by Laurice Elehwany Molinari, Zonderkidz—Releases February 4, 2014, Ages 9-12, 368 Pages, Hardcover, 978-0310735557, $16.99

Midwest Book Reviews Jan 2014 "Gail's Bookshelf"

Pinterest: GailWelborn

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