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The Other Side: A Novel Paperback – August 1, 2009
About the Author
Jen Steffen is a stay-at-home mom with two precocious children that fuel her imagination and often try her patience. Due to a large gap in understanding, she dropped out of college thinking it was the experience that mattered. That being the case, she took on any job that came her way, beginning with the position of research assistant. She has since been a photo clerk, a cleaning lady, a bartender/waitress, a pizza delivery driver, a personal care attendant, a retail sales associate, a sandwich maker in a coffee shop, and an administrative assistant for a home health care company. She now proudly counts herself among America's currently unemployed, hoping this experience too will someday lead to a story. She began writing in middle school with an under-appreciated illustrated story about a light bulb that wouldn't light. She wrote a short novel in high school as well as several short stories, and got entirely too interested in writing as a profession. She now lives with her husband and two children, a cat that most people think is a figment of the author's imagination, and a fish. When not writing, she can usually be found with a book in her hands or a controller, as she is quite a gamer.
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The Other Side has a really interesting style to it--halfway between traditional fantasy novel and folk tale or legend--that keeps the reader a little bit on edge. It doesn't fully immerse the reader in the story, but feels like a very in-depth tale told around a campfire. The starting premise of the story, in which a young man in our world has the power to create things simply by telling them into existence, launches off quickly into a rescue mission in a fantasy world with a very evil magician and his wife's life at stake. Along the way, Gary gains companions, overcomes challenges, and finds out that he is more capable and worthy than he thought. He finds ways to control his fears and to confront his past failures. The evil magician's magic and depravity is at times startling and graphic. The ending is not fully predictable, and it should keep readers guessing until the last couple of pages. This is Jen's first novel, and there are some things in the telling that could be smoother or more elegantly handled, but the story and its telling are thoroughly enjoyable.
Definitely recommended, and looking for more from this author!
This is no adolescent fantasy novel w/ a knight in shining armor defeating a dragon to save a damsel in distress. It is so much more than that. The story does have some dark undertones, but just the perfect amount to give it appeal to adults yet not so much that it wouldn't be enjoyed by younger readers. The author demonstrated great imagination throughout; one example is how the kidnapped wife is imprisoned by her captor. Rather than the standard locking in a cell or room, well take my word it is far more vivid and creative than that. The story had some shades of both Abarat was well as The Dark Tower delivered with a far more focused storyline. This novel will be greatly enjoyed by anyone who likes fantasy as well as someone who'd like to read a very strong representation of the genre. Actually, it'd be enjoyed by anyone with an imagination which I hope is just about everyone.