Alex and the alpacas save the world by Kathryn Lefroy
Fremantle Press, 2019. ISBN: 9781925815412.
(Age: 9-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Mystery, South American history, Alpacas. Kathryn Lefroy's realistic fantasy draws the reader in immediately, there's an ancient prophecy, portents of evil, talking llamas and a young girl whose destiny is coming to fruition. Alex envisions a boring summer holidays just helping her mysterious grandfather on his farm. With a fractured foot, he's unable to look after his alpacas and the olive grove.
When Alex touches an unusual symbol on the farm gate, a splinter of wood draws blood and the atmosphere changes. She unleashes magical forces and wakes up Kiala a powerful spirit trapped in the forest. Grandpa's unhappy about his daughter and granddaughter's visit; he believes his grandson Wilf is the fortieth sun needed to fulfil the ancient prophecy. Things quickly escalate; Alex's ability to communicate with the talking alpacas, her interpretation of the one-thousand-year-old prophecy and the appearance of a huge white sea eagle are just the beginning.
When Alex's mother is poisoned by the bite of a Tasmanian tiger and slips into a coma, Alex must overcome her fears and search for the antidote deep in the forest. Assisted by Leeuie a boy from a nearby apple orchard who is a walking encyclopaedia of nature facts, they ride the alpacas into the dark woods, desperate to overcome the evil forces. Ferocious Tasmanian tigers herd them towards the evil spirit trapped in a tree. Alex and Leeuie must find the elements listed in each line of the prophecy and stop the evil force.
In Kathryn Lefroy's Alex and the Alpacas Save the World we see elemental forces at play, in a wonderfully crafted world filled with shades of darkness and light. Her world-building sets fantasy characters amidst the realities of Tasmanian forests and farms. Both Alex and Leeuie are relatable characters whose journey is exciting and scary. As Alex fulfils her destiny, she learns to rely on her new friend, collaborating to complete the challenges and stepping outside their comfort zones. There is a fast-paced urgency to the narrative as they seek to find the cure for Alex's mother. Fulfilling your destiny, the fight of good and evil, the power of love and the restoration of family relationships are key themes. An excellent Upper Primary class novel and an exciting read for nine to twelve-year-old fantasy fans.