The Revival: Book Two of the Totoboan Trilogy
Outskirts Press (2011)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (12/11)
Maggie Allen’s “The Revival” is a contemporary fantasy, set in the fictitious Totoba in Africa. It follows the journey of Virginia Wilson, a college student, who decides to return to Totoba after strange dreams begin to haunt her. She had spent a summer there before, and those dreams, actually more nightmares than dreams, seem to mix reality and fantasy, but she is unable to determine which parts of them are true and which ones not, so the only logical solution she sees is to go back and try to find answers. The events she dreams about seem extremely real to her, yet she does not recall them happening.
Upon her arrival in Totoba she manages to meet with several people she came across during her previous trip, most notably Nick, somebody she feels very close to. Yet in her nightmares Nick was dead. What is truly going on here?
While I enjoyed Maggie Allen’s writing style and the rich imagination she displayed in “The Revival,” I have to admit that I had real trouble following the story. This could possibly be the result of “The Revival” being Book Two of the Totoboan Trilogy, or it could simply be that I genuinely did not understand the whole premise of this story. Although there were quite a few references to the first book and its story, I found the storyline difficult to follow and the numerous characters tough to keep straight, particularly when it came to the dual names of many of them. Nevertheless I found that the world Ms. Allen created was very vivid and quite unique. I also enjoyed the way she captured the way the younger generation tends to speak nowadays, which made the dialogue particularly contemporary and relevant. While I could not really relate to the characters, I found them well fleshed out and quite intriguing.
I would recommend “The Revival” to those readers who enjoy contemporary fantasy stories, and I would strongly advise them not to skip the first book in the series. I do believe that would make the story much easier to follow and to understand.