Elthea’s Realm is part thriller, part fantasy, and part futuristic sci-fi. Its plot revolves around five former college student friends whose almost-forgotten assignment for a course called The Utopia Project becomes of sudden interest for a force's deadly purposes.
Brought together after eight years, the members of the former utopia team have drifted into different careers and lives, but the force of perplexing text messages demands attention ("You have been warned once Philip Matherson. We will tolerate no further delay. Give us all information on the Utopia Project.").
While the story's opening salvo would seem to define it as a thriller, the events that follow rapidly move it into the realm of a fantasy as civilization is threatened, a benevolent force transports the friends to the enchanting world of Elthea's Realm, and they discover the devil in paradise in the form of Bots which they are tasked with confronting in order to save both Earth and their new home.
The desire to create a better society which evolves from the influence of Earth's circumstances, hard lessons learned when the young team first developed their vision of a utopian world, and issues ranging from the nature of evolution and being human to the benefits of failure all coalesce into a story that provides a haunting reflection on the challenges of perfection and the benefits of adversity.
In most fantasies, there are clear focuses on magic and processes that are counterpoints to reality. The result is that too many fantasy stories that involve magic or other worlds are disengaged from reality, which often translates into flat characters and one-dimensional, action-based plots.
The joy of Elthea’s Realm lies in its ability to combine both fantasy and thriller elements, using real-world Earth situations to bring social, psychological and political elements into a setting replete with magic and challenge.
What defines utopia? What happens when the instruments of humanity become its potential overlords?
Elthea’s Realm is an inviting recommendation for cross-genre fans who enjoy fantasy stories imbibed with thrilling action and heartfelt inspection. The plot is engaging and fast-paced, but the inclusion of a bigger picture translates to a thought-provoking read which lingers in the mind long after the story's final revelations about technology and humanity's interconnected futures.