Matt Monroe and the Secret Society by Edward Torba is a is more than a simple fantasy novel for young readers. With his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, and three decades of experience as a practicing dentist, the author incorporates his expertise and love of dentistry in order to create an entirely new world for the young reader to enter. This imaginative tale goes beyond the typical two dimensional novel. The author creates a three dimensional world, complete with its own unique philosophy, history and even a quasi spiritual- orthodontia belief system. With the insertion of lively imagery, the reader is introduced to the Secret Society of Odontology, elves, ominous evil creatures and a mysterious quest!
The classic good against evil plot is reinvented with a dental themed twist. Drawing from various religious sources, and commonly known tooth fairy myths, Edward Torba creates his own imagined alternate reality. This is an entirely newly invented world that integrates prophecy and religion. This story is complete with its unique dental based creation tale explained by the"Circle of Existence" with the elements of the supernatural and magic. Yet even in the supernatural fantasy, the dental theme is still obvious. For example, the peppermint aroma reminiscent of dental rinse or toothpaste, a hallmark of dentists everywhere, wafts in the city of Odont. Even the city is aptly named. Specially selected children agree to go on a dangerous mission to save the world from evil. These young children are the "messiahs" who fulfill ancient, highly anticipated prophecy. Even the ancestry elements mirrors religious prophesy. In this new world, past and present are joined and there exists no barriers between the physical and imaginary realm. Evil is represented by the rebellious figure, Damien who rebelled against the "Eternal One". One can even see elements of Mormon myth as well. In fact, the quaint fairy tale myth young children have grown accustomed to is simply part of a brainwashing plot or subterfuge. The similarities to Satan, the fallen angel of the bible, is striking. The balance of evil and good reflects the incorporation of Eastern philosophy as well. Interestingly enough, an empowering theme that effort and morals are more important than physical might and appearance are also incorporated into the story for the young reader. This is especially important for the young pre-teen and teenaged target audience. Also, this book illustrates that life is not predetermined and that free will can still prevail in overcoming what seems like a hopeless circumstance.
The religious significance can not be underestimated. In the ending scenes, the elves are depicted as falling down "prostrate" or worshipping as well as the young hero, Matt who also "instinctively fell to his knees" at the sound of the "Eternal One" as they listen to the divine declaration "I am mother, I am father. I am bread, I am water.......I am the Eternal- first and last....Peace be to you. my peace do I give." (Page 343-344).
It is obvious that dentistry is not simply a career for this author, but a science and a religion. This is especially reinforced with the spiritual themes as well as the climatic ending. This book is intended for older children. This lengthy 357 page book is perfect for pre teens and teenagers. Suggestive "coming of age" themes and dialogue make this book not as suitable to be read to very young children. The insertion of lightweight curse words such as the word "crap" or "oh my God" uttered by the teenaged characters is more appropriate for the teenaged reader under parental guidance. I feel the religious undertones of this book might be too excessive for some younger readers. Yet it will not detract from the enjoyment of the story. I believe dentists everywhere will enjoy getting this book for their own children, especially. The dental theme is indeed a specific niche, nevertheless I feel that this story can be enjoyed by the general reader as well. The cover art as well as book presentation is certain to draw in those readers who enjoy fantasy novels. I feel odontology should somehow have been incorporated into the title as it is this distinction which sets this book apart from other fantasy novels more so than including the full name of the main hero, "Matt Monroe". As a blogger I received this book published by All Points Press, from the author for the purpose of writing this review.