Book Review: ‘Family Ties & Torn Skies’

First, let me say that I’m rather embarrassed that this review has taken me so long to finish! I was honored to receive a review copy, but unfortunately various other exciting things all happening around the same time (such as my joining the staff of the amazing gaming website, Video Game Writers! more on that later) meant that I couldn’t dedicate the time I needed to produce a good review. And, since I told myself my next post would be this book review (as motivation to finish it quickly), the result has been that this blog has had a serious lack of posts as of late. I’m terribly sorry! Now that things are settling down, you should expect to see more regular posts from me.

Without further ado, on to my very first book review!

Family Ties & Torn Skies is a collection of stories and poems from from, a comprehensive site that compiles the rich and expansive universe of Torn World, created by Ellen Million. The anthology is broken into two parts, the first half focusing on the Snow-Unicorn Riders, an isolated arctic community, and the Empire, an expansive civilization ruled by science and order. As the title suggests, the central focus of this particular collection is on family and the journey from youth to adulthood.

Reading through the various stories, I was amazed at the amount of depth and detail given to the fantastic realm of Torn World. I was particularly enchanted with the Snow-Unicorn Riders stories and their culture and customs, as they are depicted as living close to nature, and the bonds created between members of certain age-sets (groups of individuals who are of similar age and form lifelong bonds with one another) were interesting to see develop over time.

Fantasy fans should find much to like in these stories, but those looking for a lot of action might find this collection to be a little dry, as the focus really is on family and community, and as such there is often more dialogue than action (don’t expect any epic, Lord of the Rings-style battles here). That said, there is so much love and care that has gone into crafting Torn World that it is hard not to be impressed by its charm. The book is also riddled with lovely illustrations that really bring a sense of familiar warmth to the whole package.

To get started, you may consider clicking around the Torn World website to get a sense of what kind of style the book is in. There is so much free media available that it really is worth taking a look at–for example, here is a link to one of the stories included in the anthology, titled “Fala the Leader.” The site was also helpful for me as I was reading the book so that I could keep track of the characters and learn more about some of the customs and creatures mentioned. If anything, this is one of my main quibbles with the anthology–though it attempts to educate its readers on so many aspects of the world, sometimes there is so much new information that it is very difficult to keep things straight, and at times I wish things were explained a little more, as someone who wasn’t familiar with the website before picking this up.

I highly suggest you check out the site and, if you like what you see, consider supporting this immense artistic collective by purchasing Family Ties & Torn Skies. It’s available as an ebook for only $4.99, or you can preorder the hardcover anthology and get a free copy of the ebook in the meantime for $14.99. You can definitely see the passion and enthusiasm in each and every one of the contributors to this collection, and it is an enjoyable read, albeit sometimes rough around the edges. I look forward to seeing more from Torn World in the future.

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.