I’ve been sitting on this review for a couple of weeks because I’m completely torn … and somewhat confused … about what to say about Ronald Neal Green‘s novel The Duty of Love.

I received a copy of the book specifically for review and it was billed as being part Stephen King and part J.R.R. Tolkien, a “magical story of what it means to love and what it means to be human.”

The Duty of Love is two stories interwoven together: One is about a girl who is dying and how her brother and family is dealing with that fact. Each night, their father tells them an ongoing story … the other story in this novel … which is about a little princess and how she tries to save not only her kingdom but the very soul of her brother, the prince.

Now each story has it’s merits, but I must admit that I enjoyed the fantasy much more than the “reality” and I’ll tell you why.

First, it was a more cohesive story. It had a clear beginning, middle and end, and I found the characters somewhat more engaging. In fact, my only real problem with this part of the novel is that the evil wizard Rigirus (how do you pronounce that anyway?) wasn’t evil at all. He was prideful, yes. Bumbling, yes. And quite lonely … very understandable given the environment he lived in.

The “reality” part of the book never seemed to go anywhere. It hinted at darker things, but in the end, I was just confused. You see there is a growling ball of light in the little girl’s closet. At night, she dreams of faeries being drawn into a scary castle. So at first I thought the two were related, and maybe they were. I think there was some religious metaphor going on, too, but can’t be certain.

Basically, I didn’t really care about the “real” characters and their story was disjointed and confusing.

So, do I recommend this book? It’s hard to say. I think some people might enjoy it. I’m too confused to even say if I just didn’t “get” it or does the book truly need some work? I see potential here … Green obviously has writing talent … but I think the story isn’t finished. I think this is a work in progress that still needs some tweaking.

SCORE: 2 out of 5 Palm Trees Possible

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