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Spirit Singer
Edward Willett
Earthling Press, 150 pages

Edward Willett
Edward Willett was born in Silver City, New Mexico, and moved to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada from Texas as a child. He studied journalism at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas; then returned to Weyburn to work as a reporter/photographer for the Weyburn Review, eventually becoming news editor. He then worked as communications officer for the Saskatchewan Science Centre in Regina for several years, quitting to become a full-time freelance writer in 1993. Ed is the author of three previous young adult science fiction and fantasy novels: Soulworm, which was short-listed for a 1997 Saskatchewan Book Award in the category of Best First Book; The Dark Unicorn, which was short-listed for a 1999 Saskatchewan Book Award in the category of Children's Literature -- both from Royal Fireworks Press, and Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star from Roussan Publishers. Spirit Singer won the Regina Book Award for best book by a Regina writer in the Saskatchewan Book Awards. He has also published half-a-dozen non-fiction books for children, which include Meningitis, Arthritis, Hemophilia and Alzheimer's Disease, all part of the Diseases and People series from Enslow Publishers, and Careers in Outer Space from Rosen Publishing. Enslow Publishers have recently issued his children's biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien: Master of Imaginary Worlds and he is currently working on a similar biography of Orson Scott Card. He has also published computer science books including: Teach Yourself Microsoft Publisher 2000, Your Official America Online Guide to Creating Web Pages, and Your Official America Online Guide to Internet Safety. Mr. Willett is webmaster and administrative assistant for SF Canada. Ed's short fiction has been published in On Spec, Transversions and Artemis Magazine. He also writes short stories, plays, and a weekly science column for the Regina Leader Post and CBC radio, and works professionally as an actor and singer. Ed lives in Regina, SK with his wife, Margaret Anne, a telecommunications engineer and their young daughter Alice.

Author's website
Hassenpfeffer, the author's blog site
ISFDB Bibliography
Interviews with Edward Willett: 1, 2
Spirit Singer: 1, 2
Lost in Translation: 1

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

Spirit Singer Besides being a fun novel with engaging characters and having all the basic elements of a good fantasy [a prophesied heroine, a quest, a feudal society, magic, an evil wizard-king, a character wavering between good and evil], Spirit Singer, shortlisted for the 2002 Regina Book Award, manages to pack it all into 150 pages. Wait... it's not a 3,000 page, multi-volume series... not even a obvious tie-in for a sequel... could it be that fantasy can be brief and well written too? While I'm not suggesting that Spirit Singer has the depth of The Lord of the Rings, it's entertaining, unpadded, and has a clear presentation of the problem, those wishing to fix it or worsen it, and finally a resolution of the problem. While Willett presents some characters that are uni-dimensionally good or evil, others are torn between the two, and the villain isn't just smack-you-in-the-face evil, he can be deceptive and play good with the best of them, albeit for a short time.

Amarynth is a young female apprentice spirit singer, learning from her grandfather how to ceremonially lead the spirits of the dead through a spirit realm to a heaven of sorts. A dark entity suddenly begins to haunt the spirit realm, and black-vested travelling spirit singers are muscling-in on towns and villages everywhere. Upon her grandfather's demise, Amarynth goes off in search of a new spirit singer for her village, but notwithstanding a temporary escape with the help of an innkeepers son, she is dragged off to the villain's lair. Refusing to pledge allegiance to the dark entity, and aided in her escape and quest by the innkeeper's and villain's sons, she must reach a mountain-top sage in order to save her world.

This novel, marketed for young teens, has relatively little violence and is sex-free, both in the sense of interpersonal relationships and personal growth. Certainly, if you're looking for a girl's evolving discovery of her womanhood, this isn't the book to read. The evil has predominantly a spiritual/theological existence, though it has physical minions to feed it and run its errands. These spiritual aspects might offend some fundamentalist Christians, but otherwise the book is fairly innocuous, yet maintains a good pace and holds interest. Certainly, on the whole, young readers would likely get much more out of this book in terms of good succinct plotting and writing than they'd ever be likely to from the droves of role-playing game tie-ins and fat fantasy trilogies. The title is available in book form as well as a number of electronic formats.

Copyright © 2002 by Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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