I’ve made it an unofficial policy of mine to simply not review indie books that I do not like. Grandma’s old adage, “If you can’t say something nice. . . .” sorta stuck with me, she’d be happy to hear. ”I’m glad something stuck in that girl’s thick head,” she’d say. However, when an author actually submits a novel for review, I feel an obligation to give it my best shot to let the author know where I feel the story and/or writing could improve and the reader know they might want to skip it. I got that tight, nervous, “oh, no, oh, no, no, no” feeling between the shoulder blades when I started The Three Feathers. Yep. I started to tense up right on the first page, already dreading writing this review. Someone poured their heart and soul into this book, took a leap of faith sending it to me for review, and here I sit judging it from the first page. I imagine Mr. Bolz is feeling that hard, cold knot in his stomach right about now reading this, so I’ve got to let him off the hook. Not even realizing it, I looked up a few pages later and noticed that nervous feeling I had, the dread, had melted away. I had become thoroughly immersed, enthralled, in fact, by the magical world of Joshua the rooster and hadn’t even realized it. Yes, rooster. Give it a chance, people.
Stefan Bolz’s The Three Feathers is a delightful story about stepping out of the box, following your dreams (literally and figuratively, in Joshua’s case) and finding your place, your mission. It is about the bonds of friendship and love, and making differences a strength. It reminds me on many levels of an old Chinese proverb; the language, the Zen-like lessons, the writing itself. The best I could describe it would be an ancient Chinese fable intertwined with a Grimm’s fairy tale, a parable, and an epic fantasy.
The Three Feathers follows Joshua the rooster as he escapes his mindless but easy life in the coop. He has had a dream, and unlike many of us Joshua is brave enough to follow it even though it means leaving the comfort of everything he knows, there is danger at every turn, and he doesn’t know what it really means. He just knows that he must. As his journey begins he meets his companions, Grey and Krieg, a brave wolf and a mighty war horse. Together, they help Joshua follow his dream, while each of them separately fights to overcome their own personal demons. Friendships are forged and obstacles are overcome, fantastical creatures are discovered and evil souls unearthed.
Joshua steps out of his comfort zone and opens his heart to magical possibilities — I am asking you to do the same when you read The Three Feathers. The writing style and dialogue is a bit different — formal yet simple. That’s part of what put me off for the first few pages, I think, but now I realize it is part of the charm and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. The punctuation could have used a little help, but given my background I think I notice punctuation errors more than the average reader.
Mr. Bolz has woven a hypnotic tale where friendship and love can overcome the most devastating of enemies — doubt in yourself. This is a book for all ages. There is danger, yes, and doubt and sadness and loss. But lessons cannot be learned without them, am I right? This book is marvelously innocent and thought-provoking all at the same time. Tired of the jaded and worn out modern fantasy tale? I enthusiastically encourage you to pick up this enchanting fable and rediscover the innocent joy of childhood and the magical wonder of life in this simple yet wonderfully complex story. Joshua and his friends will make you a believer, I promise.