When I picked up The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul, I was expecting an action-packed fantasy novel. Something like Outriders by Kathryn Mackel or the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. Instead, The Vanishing Sculptor started slowly, with Tipper selling her father’s statues while her guardian, a giant parrot named Beccaroon, looked on disapprovingly. I kept waiting for the danger to hit and the action to start, but it didn’t happen.
As I got further into the novel, though, I began to appreciate Donita K. Paul’s style. The novel is the story of a quest, almost like a Pilgrim’s Progress or a parable. Paul carries us through her fantasy land with light, brief descriptions, focusing more on the characters and their interactions with each other. She has a gift for creating unique, humorous characters, from the wizard Fenworth who is always shaking lizards and leaves from his cloak to the Lady Peg whose scatter-brained comments somehow make more sense than the logical speech of other characters.
Tipper’s father, Verrin Schope, is a famous artist who has been gone for the past fifteen years. Lady Peg is absentminded at best, so running the family estate falls to Tipper. As their fortunes fall, she begins selling pieces of her father’s art to make ends meet. The problem is that three of Verrin’s statues were carved from the same piece of marble—and that piece of marble is the foundation for a gateway between their world and another world.
The quest begins when Verrin Schope returns with two new friends, Wizard Fenworth and his librarian Librettowit. Because the three statues are scattered around the country, the gateway’s foundations are wobbly and Verrin keeps getting pulled back and forth between the two worlds. To fix the problem, they must find all three statues and put them together again. With the help of Bealomondore, an aspiring artist who has long admired Verrin’s work and has connections to the last known owners of the statues, Tipper, Verrin, Beccaroon, Fenworth and Librettowit set off on their quest.
The questing party travel first to the mountains to find riding dragons to speed their quest. Along with four of his dragons, Prince Jayrus, the dragon keeper, joins their quest. As they visit each of the art collectors who owns the statues, they encounter various reactions—and finally some action. Prince Jayrus must use his sword, kidnapped party members must be rescued, and all the healing dragons’ power is needed to keep Verrin in one piece as they search for the statues.
In the end, I enjoyed The Vanishing Sculptor, especially the author’s unique way of storytelling. Donita K. Paul brings a fresh voice to the world of fantasy. Many of her readers will already be familiar with the setting of the novel from the DragonKeeper Chronicles. When my reading list gets a bit shorter, I’ll have to go searching for those books.
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This book was provided for review courtesy of the publisher or publicist. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.