Engkantado is about a boy, Nino, who piques the interest of the underworld with his anguished cries that echoes throughout the forest night after night. These creatures want to make him happy, and that’s what they set out to do.
And then, somewhere in the middle, Nino becomes a chosen being who will save the underworld from a nasty giant who wants to rule their world.
I do not know where this new plot comes from, just that it appears midway and gets resolved as smoothly as the introduction of said plot. That is to say, badly.
Filipino readers, especially those who are familiar with the author, might say I don’t know what I’m talking about–and admittedly, I will say I really don’t. I’m not a book critic, I’m a reader. And I’m posting my reactions to things I’ve been reading in hopes of promoting books I’ve enjoyed, and giving an alternate take to the books I didn’t like as much.
The bottom line is this: if you don’t agree with my thoughts and comments, feel free to comment and we’ll discuss. If you agree with me, comment and we’ll discuss as well.
Now, Engkantado is a title I picked up in my quest to find more locally-published books. It’s in Tagalog, so it’s not something I can recommend to international non-Filipino readers. But after reading the book, it’s not something I want to promote to local Filipino readers either. But it is something I want to talk about.
Fantasy young adult novels are rampant. The concept of a human kid being transported to a magical world full of danger and adventure is not uncommon. But why haven’t we seen a well-written one here in the Philippines? Or, at least, why haven’t I seen one?
Is lack of promotion and exposure the problem? Or is the lack of material? There are plenty of writers in the country, just look at the amount of fan fiction being produced by our fellow countrymen. Are the publishers afraid to gamble? Then why do books like Engkantado and Rosallea exist? Because they were written by established writers? But established where? Because if you read both, you would wonder how the writers became established in the first place.
In the case of Rosallea, I’ve met the author in person. She is a very good writer–but not in this field. She’s prolific in the world of romance and writes wonderful stories about family as well. And yet, placed in a fantastical world, she falters.
I haven’t read any of Landicho’s other works, but I am willing to bet that he has good books. But why force yourself into this genre if it isn’t your forte?
Remembering my conversation with the author of Rosallea, I must ask these: was this something the writer wanted, or something the publisher wanted to explore? Then why not invest on someone new? Someone good? (I’m sure the editors would be able to discern what’s good from bad.) Why not promote the books properly? Why not make it look appealing to readers?
I believe that Filipino authors can sell books too. If you don’t believe me, look at the number of Precious Hearts novellas that exist. It’s just a matter of putting out the right material.
Now, which local publisher will be up to task?