"Crown of Oblivion"

The characters in “Crown of Oblivion,” a fantasy by Julie Eshbaugh, face similar trials as those in Stephen King’s “The Long Walk.”

“Crown” takes place in a modern/fantasy world where monarchs rule the nation. Jules is a young woman in indentured servitude to the monarchs of her country but her job is unlike her fellow indentured servants. Jules is the surrogate or whipping girl for the Princess Renya. Wanting to escape her servitude and help her family, Jules enters the Race of Oblivion.

The race is a competition among the Outsiders or indentured servants to win citizenship and have their indentures paid off. But the race has a catch; to compete all of the participants’ former memories are wiped clean; their challenge is to solve puzzles and make it across the nation. Jules has an edge on the other competitors because she possesses powers no other Outsider has, the powers of an Enchanted.

When Jules awakes after getting her mind wiped clean, the challenges have already begun. The first test to scale a lighthouse poses the threat of death and is where Jules meets the mysterious fellow competitor Darius. They race against time and fierce competition, as well as Enchanted guards in a battle for their lives.

Throughout the race, Jules and Darius face many obstacles that test their trust in each other and their own minds. While memories rush back, Jules pieces her life together to create a picture of why she joined the race in the first place.

Mystery, romance, and adventure dominate Eshbaugh's book, and I was riveted from the beginning. Full of rich details and complex relationships, Jule’s story comes to life leaving me on the edge of my seat until the very last pages; I was thoroughly pleased throughout.

I’d been suffering from the dreaded book slump, so this was the perfect read to get me back on my feet. I would recommend “Crown of Oblivion” to any fantasy reader looking for a fresh take on an adventure, with plenty of twists to keep you guessing.