Reviewed: Leon Martin and the Fantasy Girl

Cover art courtesy of André Swartley

by Josh Booth – Horizon Features Editor

André Swartley knows a thing or two about writing novels. The Hesston College alumnus has written two critically acclaimed books after all, The Island of Misfit Toys, and Americanus Rex. I believe his third book should receive just as much acclamation as the first two. Leon Martin and the Fantasy Girl is fiction adventure about a Mennonite boy, Leon Martin, who he decides to perform a summer of service in St. Goar, Germany. What he expects to be an average service trip turns into a period of happiness, chaos, excitement, and even love, all at the same time.

Leon grew up going to a small Mennonite high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He was known as being nerdy and didn’t grow up really having any friends. He took comfort in playing a video game his mother bought for him, until it caused severe arthritis in his hands.

Heading into the service trip, Leon was looking at two major obstacles. The first one was his hands, which were useless for most activities. He worried the director of the service trip wouldn’t be able to match him to an assignment where he wouldn’t be a burden. The second concern was named Autumn Springer. She looked so good, she could have made a blind man whistle when she walked by. This unfortunately gave her a reputation of being promiscuous. Autumn was bad news, at least as far as Leon’s mother was concerned. She would often warn Leon about her, saying, “Girls like Autumn Springer only know one way to interact with boys.”

Leon and Autumn arrived in St. Goar, where they lived in a house with their German host parents. They decided one day to tour around the town, and eventually got to an abandoned church. The church showed its age, with untamed grass and stones scattered all throughout the area. Looking at the church from afar, they spotted what appeared to be a girl standing on the edge of the property. They began to wonder why she was there when she suddenly dropped to the ground. When they ran to her they found her badly hurt, and they carried her back to the hospital in town. It gets weirder. Leon is struck by the appearance of this girl, as she resembles one of the characters in his video game. Things only start to get stranger from here, as Leon and Autumn begin an intense journey where patience is tested, faith is questioned, and the truth is as shocking as none other.

André Swartley is a 1999 Hesston College grad currently residing in Japan.

This story is designed for young adults, and I found it to be a quick and easy read. This book will keep your attention throughout the entire story without any letdowns, and I found it to be manageable to read while having a busy schedule. I recommend this book because I found it to be something I could relate to, and many of you could as well. It has an aspect of faith that I enjoyed, and I felt like I was right there watching Leon as he dealt with his struggles. Leon Martin and the Fantasy Girl has been released to the public, and is currently available on



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