Book Review: Theo and the Forbidden Language by: Melanie Ansley

Publication Date: November 19, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: In the isolated rabbit village of Willago, introverted Theo has a secret. Even though reading and writing were long ago outlawed as sorcery, Theo can’t resist the books hidden in the family cupboard. When a mysterious owl arrives with a priceless collar, all the rabbits try to unlock it, but fail. Theo is the only one to realize it’s a word puzzle, and rearranges the collar’s stones to form a sentence. When the village elders learn that Theo has broken the law yet again, they imprison him. 

In the dead of night he is freed by Brune, an axe-wielding bear who believes Theo has a different destiny. They escape to Mankahar, a land where the human empire is robbing animals of speech using a poison called “pacification.” The empire will march to the furthest corners of the land, enslaving all animals to use on their farms, including the rabbits of Willago. The only thing standing in the empire’s way is the Order, a society of free animals determined to defend their way of life. Brune, a member of the Order, convinces Theo to join him in their fight. 

But Brune’s cause proves dangerous. Whom can Theo trust, when the empire punishes those who read or write with death? Worse, his fellow animals view the written word as sacrilegious. As the battle for Mankahar’s fate looms, Theo must risk everything—including love—to learn the full power of the forbidden language, or be silenced forever.

Review: In Theo’s world, reading is forbidden but his grandfather has taught him the ancient tabooed art. Theo’s a little fat rabbit who is in apprenticeship to be a healer. When a strange owl arrives in the village, it is collared with a beautiful and priceless choker. The villagers decide whomever can unlock the jeweled collar will be able to keep it, but all the rabbits fail to uncover the secret. Theo is the only one who realizes the lock is a word puzzle and when he opens the collar, the owl flies away. When the village elders find out Theo broke the law again, he is imprisoned. What Theo doesn’t realize is he’s about to go on an epic adventure which will affect the lives of every animal in the world. THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN LANGUAGE is a story about a perfectly ordinary rabbit who gets caught up in an extraordinary adventure. While the main characters are animals – rabbits, bears, etc., THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN LANGUAGE is definitely not for children. THEO AND THE FORBIDDEN LANGUAGE is a well-written and intricately detailed high fantasy novel on par with the Game of Thrones series. The story is graphic, at times bloody, but with heart and a good message.

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