The Elixir Vitae Adventures: Ortus by Stacey Horan

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A special thank-you to Stacey Horan for providing an ARC for me to review!

Title: The Elixir Vitae Adventures: Ortus (Book 1) by Stacey Horan


Abigail and Quinn Link must go live with their grandpa when their mother suddenly dies from cancer.  Their grandfather, Professor Larson, asks the children to fill in where their mother left off — guarding the elixir vitae or fountain of youth from those who would use it for their own gain.  They travel around the United States finding and solving clues, while trying to simultaneously fit in at their new boarding school.

My thoughts:

I love the cover of this book!  I know that seems kind of silly, but I wanted to share something that I think was absolutely spot-on with this book.  I also loved the personal note which I received from the author when I won it through Goodreads.

The premise of the story is a good one.  The children go on adventures with their grandfather to find clues all around the United States to discover the whereabouts of the elixir vitae.  They do this by means of a magic portal map and key.  So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the execution of the story leaves something to be desired.  The actual narration sounded like a teenager telling about the events of their day — more like a diary entry than a novel.  I found myself wishing for more detail throughout the story, more richness, more variety in sentence structure, and more complex thoughts.

The characters were okay, but I didn’t become attached to any of them.  They needed more fleshing out and a closer glimpse into their psyches to show readers what makes them tick.  It also seemed that their emotional reactions were off at times.  Sometimes they had extreme negative reactions in situations which didn’t call for it.  I wondered why this person was all of a sudden screaming at that person.  Would they all benefit from some anger management classes?

Finally, there were enough errors in the text itself that it couldn’t be overlooked.  The editing wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t careful enough, either.  Of particular note, I counted eleven instances of the wrong word being used.  That’s kind of a lot.  Throw in a few misspelled words, missing words, extra words, and a paragraph break in the wrong place, and you can see how it could become a problem.

I recommend The Elixir Vitae Adventures: Ortus to those who like adventures which feature kids as the heroes.  If you’re willing to overlook some bumps in the delivery, you might enjoy this story.

Possible Objections:

  • One instance of taking God’s name in vain
  • One of the kids says, “Holy shhhhhh” – implying you know what

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

Until next time…



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