Raywyn & the Golden Bow by Angelos Ashes
Raywyn & the Golden Bow, by emerging WA author, Angelos Ashes, is a wonderful read for those young teens seeking escapism from the challenges of everyday reality, while at the same time, looking for a more holistic approach to dealing with real issues.
Raywyn, 12-year-old orphan and rebellious London schoolgirl, is the unlikely hero of this story, chosen to save the human race from the clutches of a powerful evil. Adopted by her long lost uncle in Australia, Raywyn is soon introduced to a more harmonious way of living, one which is far removed from her usual impetuous lifestyle. When her uncle thinks she’s ready, he tasks her with a mission, and she sets off on a journey of both enlightenment and magic.
It is a journey on which she will meet many characters, some who will help her, some who will not. She will also face many obstacles, both internal and external, and as the book nears the end, we wonder if she is able to rise above the constraints of the past and gather enough strength to defeat the enemy.
The characters in this book are the most memorable part for me. From The Serpent Queen to King Metarch, The White Tiger to Nan the Kangaroo, each one pushes the boundaries of our imagination, yet at the same time, seem like familiar companions. The imagery of the book is beautiful and extraordinary, and we are taken through many different worlds and times — real and imagined, near and far.
We visit the Australian outback, where we are party to a “great gathering of animals… all talking… in normal, everyday English;” in India, we travel on the back of a tiger along a “great mountain range with its majestic snow-capped peaks;” and we meet with seven Light Beings in a “vast chamber of light and sound and colours.”
The book contains some powerful messages, such as the need for us to try and be in control over our own thoughts and actions, the power of meditation, self-belief, living in the present moment, and how needless it is to worry, struggle or fear. The book deals with concepts that could be considered quite adult, but it does not patronize the young reader in any way. Instead, it raises issues that might be thought further upon and questioned by the reader outside of the reading experience.
The antagonist, for example, is a supernatural creature who embodies pure evil; he can control a person’s thoughts and actions, and entraps Raywyn in a state of self-doubt and helpless addiction. It is up to the reader if they would like to research topics such as drug addiction, dictatorship, and the power of the mind. It does not shy away from such social issues, yet deals with them from within the realm of fantasy.
If you’re after gritty realism, teens facing real life issues in real life settings, or contemporary drama, then this is not the book for you. But although this book is quite firmly rooted in the fantasy genre, Raywyn & the Golden Bow is still relevant to today’s young adult. In fact, I would argue, it offers a perspective more relevant to dealing with teen issues than most of today’s realist fiction. After all, who hasn’t, these days, heard about the benefits of meditation, positive thinking, affirmations, and being in the ‘now’?
Overall, this book offers a new age and fantastical adventure within a classical structure of good overcoming evil. The reader is left with a sense of wonder, feelings of positivity and motivation, and most of all, a long-lasting imprint of a magical world where anything is possible.
I would highly recommend this book to young teens not afraid of a challenge or those searching for something a little different.