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Elissa's Quest

(Phoenix Rising #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  473 ratings  ·  63 reviews
THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD ELISSA LEADS a solitary life. She knows nothing of her parents—only that her mother is dead. Her caretaker, Nana, keeps her father's identity a secret from her. Meanwhile Elissa carries her own secret—the people of the valley must not know that she has the gift of speaking to animals. For now she is just a healer's apprentice in peaceful High Crossing, bu ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 12th 2009 by Random House Books for Young Readers (first published June 26th 2007)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Gwen the Librarian
Aug 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: kidlit, fantasy
Elissa has lived in the valley with the healing woman for her whole life. She does not know who her parents were and Nana has never spoken of them. Elissa has learned not to ask questions about her past, so it is shock when her father, a nobleman, turns up one evening to claim her and take her away. At first, Elissa is thrilled to finally learn who she is, but her father proves just as taciturn as Nana. Elissa soon discovers that her father has only claimed her to use her as a bargaining chip in ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Reviewed by Marta Morrison for

After reading ELISSA'S QUEST, I am looking forward to the next installment of the PHOENIX RISING trilogy.

Elissa is thirteen years old and lives with the midwife in the village of High Crossing. Her caretaker doesn't speak to Elissa about her parentage and so Elissa grows up lonely. Her only friends are the animals around the valley, because she has the gift of understanding their language. Her best friend is Gertrude, the donkey.

One day a royal co
Jun 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a fantastic book. I didn't want to ever put it down. I'd recommend it to everyone even though it's targeted at a younger audience. I'm 16 and I enjoyed it very much. The writing is done in a way that younger children could understand it and also it'd help their vocabulary. I personally think that it should be targeted for a teen audience. It has some jokes in it that I feel younger kids wouldn't understand but older people, teens or adults, would find hilarious. The author is simply a ge ...more
Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fantasy readers
Elissa. She is a thirteen year old potential orphan. Her caretaker, the local midwife and healer and the person who raised her from infancy has only told her that her mother is dead and doesn't answer her questions about her father. Then guess who shows up? You got it. Dear old Dad. This book revolves largly around her relationship with him as he takes her to the Khan to trade her for troops to win a war. Um, what? And did I mention that she can talk to animals and may be the person who is going ...more
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Entertaining in a very-JV-fantasy sort of way. Felt like something that would have been an animated movie in the 80s or 90s. I liked some of the side characters - I could picture Maya perfectly, and the camel made me giggle. A lot of plot points went unanswered, but it is a trilogy, so I assume those will be forthcoming.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the best Y/YA trilogies written! I love the world building, and the characterization. (I wish this were aged up a bit)
Alyeska Giles
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
it was easy to guess what came next, and it didn't make a lot of sense, but it was still a really good book! I would recommend it highly to any young girl. ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
My absolute favorite series, as a child and now as an adult
Amelia Love
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was my all-time favourite book series as a kid! I love the setting of these books! Still to this day I will sometimes think of the beautiful imagery in Verrillo's writing. ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
I tried really hard to like Elissa’s Quest, but I found it incredibly difficult to get past the perfection of Elissa as a protagonist and the overall stale feeling of the world. I hope Verrillo expands and improves on her world in the next two books (though I doubt I will read them), because the world in this book is so bland with absolutely nothing new in it. I did appreciate that she included all the different cultures, but we saw so much of the world so fast that I couldn’t soak it up at all. ...more
The Grimm Reader
When I first started this book, I was sure it was going to be one of those okay filler books that I read between the more exciting YA series or Middle Grade series whose next installment I was impatiently waiting for. But by page 50, I was caught hook, line, and sinker. What I originally thought was going to be a slow paced read turned into a story I couldn't put down.
Elissa's Quest is original and creative; unique in its own way. I was blown away by the story, and was left hungry for the nex
Conan Tigard
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Talk about a fast and fun book. Right form the start, I was grabbed by Elissa' Quest and found myself in a literary stranglehold. I just couldn't put this book down. I loved all of the characters in this book. Elissa and Maya are quite the pair and they work very well together. We really didn't get to know the Khan very well, maybe we will in future books. He doesn't seem all the evil . . . yet. And Lord Falk, who is he? Why did he give up his daughter as a baby? Who was Elissa's mother? Ho ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Verrillo is so engaging in creating Elissa's character and surroundings. She is a bit wordy and the descriptions of events sometimes go on a bit long, but the ending is fantastic and the dialogue is fun and moves along at a nice clip. I am kind of curious about the cultural/anthropological subtext behind a white girl encountering a bunch of what seemed to be inspired by Bedouins. It says in Verrillo's bio that she is a world traveler and you wonder if this was inspired by her Middle Eastern trav ...more
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
*** Irrelevant to Review: Originally I had skipped this book because my local library didnt have it and one of the librarians had ordeered it for me but it nmvr came, later I began using the sit and boom found out it was nvr ordered. But now I have.

Well Elissa is raised in this small little protected 'town', she knows her mother died but was never told about her father, until the day he came too get her. This begans the story of intrigue, magic, travel and discovery. The book can
Rebecca Gatzlaff
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series, library
I really liked this book. Elissa's Quest is about a girl named Elissa who is an orphan and live with an old woman named Nana, who is a healer. One day Elissa's father comes to collect her and her adventures begin. This reminded me of the immortals series by Tamera Pierce. The main character Elissa can speak to animals. But this book is so much more, it is about friendship, dealing with hardships and protecting the world. She meets a servant girl, Maya, that gets into trouble but, never gets caug ...more
Tim Earle
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to Tim by: Local librarian
I read Elissa's Quest a couple of months ago after it was recommended by the librarian in our local library. She said it was one of the best fantasies out there, and after reading it, I have to agree. It's not your usual fantasy. Even though it was written as a children's book, it's fairly sophisticated. Elissa has enough in the way of personal problems (with her father ... or lack of father)to make it interesting to an older audience. The descriptions of the desert were so vivid, I actually got ...more
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
A rather boring fantasy that never really comes together. The first in the Phoenix Rising trilogy, the book never really gots me involved in the characters' lives so that adventure and danger left me cold. What is it about some authors' writing that makes you connect with characters deeply (and quickly) so that you actually CARE about them. I never reached that with Elissa and her gang, and the final climactic battle was so underplayed and poorly described that it was over and done with before a ...more
Nov 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to Alyssa by: A friend
I learned a lot from this book. First, you don't have to compete with your friends to be popular. I know that in a fantasy about a girl who can talk to animals, that's not really an issue. But, Elissa always manages to get along with everybody. She's kind and forgiving. She doesn't try to get the upper hand. And, she is courageous and never tells lies. For me, she is a role model. Also, the book was a lot of fun to read. ...more
Mar 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is the first book in a trilogy. Elissa has been raised by Nana the valley's midwife, with no knowledge of her parents. When her father shows up she discovers that she is the daughter of a Prince who now wants to use her as a pawn in his political quest for power. Elissa has the ability to talk to animals and is able to use this gift to help herself out of some tight places.

I'm excited to read the next book.
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
The characters are predictable to a T, and I found some of the topics in the book written for younger readers but over their head to a point.

I was more then halfway through the book when I realized the book wasn't going to go anywhere and I'd have to read the second one. I didn't like that if left off in such an obvious cliffhanger.

A lot of potential maybe the author grows. But I don't think this book has the crossover appeal to adults like it's looking for.
Jun 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Elissa is raised in a small mountain village by the women she knew as her grandmother. All she knew about her parents were that her mother died when she was born. Elissa is able to speak with animals. Her grandmother warns her to never let anyone know about her gift. One day a group of soldiers come into the village and Elissa learns she is a princess and she is to become the pawn in her father gaining mercenaries to battle a neighboring kingdom. Fantasy recommended for 4-6 grades
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, clean-teen
I love Elissa. An orphan that is raised simply then turned to her father to be used as a pawn. I cannot believe she agreed to stay with the sheik since the man was obviously evil. I was so angry at he wait for the third and then Barnes and Nobel did not have it and I had to wait for it to be shipped. How annoying!
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Large type makes it seem to be for younger readers, yet this girl is facing potential marriage to a guy with tons of wives, and she's not even 14 yet. So the topics, while not graphic, seem inappropriate for younger readers.

If not for that, I'd give it 3 stars. But I'm looking for books for my 9 year old daughter.
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Tore through it in a day and a half. A story of a girl that can talk to animals. Perfectly done, not sappy or campy. Seemed like adult themes: war, wives, becoming a woman, all woven into a tale set in the desert. A stand alone book, but thankfully there is a book two, and three. Can't wait. ...more
Aug 23, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Kids who love to talk to animals

OK, this is a promising first in a trilogy. I did like it OK. The writing was a tad awkward but the author is definitely on the right track with it. I will happily read the other two when they hit the shelves. Would I buy it? No, but I would recommend it as a nice quiet little read.
Emily S.
Nov 12, 2008 rated it liked it
The author intrusion and single sentence POV shifts drove me nuts at times, but the story plugged along at a good pace. I especially loved Maya, the water child. I'll probably read the next book in the trilogy. ...more
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to Tammy by: Librarian
I thought this was a great book! It was exciting and the animals were hilarious. The Blue People rocked. The prophecy was a mystery, but that's the way prophecies are supposed to be. I've told all of my friends to read it. ...more
Miss Clark
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: the-bog
Uh, well, I was very bored reading this. Did not feel for the characters or their plight and I felt that for a trilogy, this book accomplished extraordinarily little. Not going to bother with the other two.
Sep 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. Great characters, great setting, great plot. The talking animals were hilarious. I think it's best for a middle school crowd. The vocabulary is a little advanced for grade school. Wonderful summer read! ...more
Jun 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved it. I liked Maya and Elissa and Gertrude and Nana. I pretty much liked all of the characters except for Kahn and the soldiers. I liked how Elissa thought her dad was some guy with a beard but he turned out to be bald without a beard.
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My daughter fell ill when she was eight, and for nearly two years she was unable to attend school. I spent a great deal of that time entertaining her with stories about an intrepid young girl named Elissa, who could talk with animals. Many years later she asked me to write those stories down. (I did, because I do everything my daughter says.) Once I had written them down, she told me to get them p ...more

Other books in the series

Phoenix Rising (3 books)
  • Elissa's Odyssey (Phoenix Rising, #2)
  • World's End (Phoenix Rising, #3)

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