Author of The Wrong Way Down is On The Right Way Up
By Jake Elliot
Damnation Books, $19.99, 221 pages
In The Wrong Way Down, author Jake Elliot creates a fantastical world that is both believable and magical. The story follows Popalia, a young priestess-in-training, on a journey to recover her order’s lost holy relic. She is accompanied by the elf Wynkkur, rejected by his family and the world, looking for redemption through this quest. Fate takes them from a remote chapel in the woods, across rivers, to a giant capital city. Once there, they must navigate treacherous thieves and two-faced helpers; but in the end they are forced to make a tough choice.
The thing that makes The Wrong Way Down great, is it succeeds where so many other fantasy books fail; with a strong magic system. Author Jake Elliot crafts a system of magic that is believable. Coming from divine intervention, a character sees magic symbols float before their eyes which they then speak to release the magic. Instead of invisible forces, the molecular structure of existence is affected by these magical sigils and words.
The author also makes great use of humor. Many parts of The Wrong Way Down are intense, the reader can quickly get anxious. Instead of allowing this, humorous moments break the tension. When a giant bear is chasing Wynkkur through the woods, the author doesn’t take the easy way out and craft an elaborate battle sequence. Instead the bear becomes entangled between two trees and can’t move. This kind of ironic humor permeates the entirety of this work.
Although Elliot is a talented writer, The Wrong Way Down is plagued by some editing issues that can make the story hard to follow. As is the case with many beginning authors, words get misplaced and punctuation switched around. These errors don’t make the book unintelligible, but the pacing of the prose can be choppy as the reader is forced to go back and discern the meaning of some sentences.
Overall, The Wrong Way Down is a fun book with some unique writing. Jake Elliot is developing his own voice, and it will be very interesting to see what else he comes out with.
Reviewed by Andrew Keyser