Tag Archives: Fantasy

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage by Vic James

 Gilded Cage
by Vic James

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication: February 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Gilded Cage by Vic James

All I can say is I need the second book ASAP! Gilded Cage by Vic James is an impressive first look into a new, grim world that feels oddly familiar and appropriate given the current state of affairs in the world. Society is broken up into the haves and the have-nots, as those with special powers they were born with (and are acquired through inherited birth by a few it seems) are in control of Great Britain, while the plebs without power all must endure a ten year period of slavery.

Characters are intriguing, especially those that are Equal. There is so much intrigue and family politics that we just don’t know and it drives me crazy! Silyen, the youngest of the Parva-Jardine family is the one with the most Skill, yet, the aristocracy isn’t Skill/merit based. It’s still handed down to the first born. Which puts emotionally unstable Gavar as next in line to rule one of Britain’s founding Equal fathers. James does something incredibly interesting when it comes to Gavar. She sets up an initial prejudice for readers, automatically framing him as an antagonist. Yet, for the rest of the novel, we see more than just the monster James paints in the prologue. We see there is a struggle there; he is volatile, yes, but he is loving too. He is extreme, and yet it is the reserved Silyen who gives off an air of detachment to everyone and everything, that proves to be the extremist. He is the one with the long game, though no one knows what it is, including readers.

There is a sense of heavy worldbuilding here as Vic James mentions how different parts of the world are split up between Equals and commoners. America split in two, an obvious nod to the Civil War, but also the current heavy rift in society and culture. Britain itself remains aristocratic and parliamentary, but it has become more of a joke, as those with the most power tend to be the most in charge; physical displays of Skill taking command. We also get a heavy sense of history behind everything, giving the world a gravity that draws you in.

I could talk about Gilded Cage by Vic James for hours. There are so many layers masterfully intertwined in a book that still remains firmly YA. Strong characters and solid worldbuilding make the political themes of the book flourish, giving readers a desire to make changes in their own world after seeing the inconsistencies and cruelties that are allowed to exist to the benefit of the empowered few.

The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg

The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg

 The Perfect Tear
by Connie Lansberg

Eleanor is a singer. Her songs keep nature in balance, but when they are stolen from her, a grey mist descends and her world fails to thrive. This timid orphan is thrust into a course of action she never asked for, nor envisioned. Set against a backdrop of abandonment, loss and betrayal, she must find her way through strange and dangerous landscapes in her desperate search for the Perfect Tear, a dark crystal which holds the future of her world. But, Eleanor is no savior. She is a simple girl with strong instincts and she must learn to trust them. Just like the notes of song must connect to create a melody, Eleanor must discover the connections needed to create the harmony required to truly save her world.

Rated: ★★
Publisher: Shooting For Success LLC
Publication:  December 15, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Coming-of-Age, Young Adult
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg

A world created by song with divine beings described as frequencies, this is the universe in The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg. It feels a tad bit more sci-fi than fantasy, simply because of the frequency and experiment premise, also the lack of traditional fantasy staples such as fantastic creatures. Still, it’s an entertaining and original story.

Lansberg does a superb job of having readers connect with Eleanor (and Bella, my fave) by having the reader glimpse into her entire life. We see the troubled birth, the blessed and cursed childhood, and then a young girl’s heart’s desire before finally seeing her mature into adulthood and come into her trials. So when she has to undergo her journey, we’re with her and feel for what she goes through.

I wish the romance was explored more, since what little we saw of it made me think it was a great one. I mean hello, a prince was willing to throw away his title and family for this poor orphan girl! Who wouldn’t want to know more, see more of their struggle? But, I understand that this was not a romance. Eleanor has a task at hand that is much more serious than love. She needs to save the world from the unbalance one overzealous frequency has caused.

Sadly, I have to admit that Lansberg stretches herself a bit too thinly when she adds an extra adventurer to the mix of Eleanor and Audrey. Rosamar doesn’t seem needed and distracts from the scenes with her bad Spanish (I’m a native Spanish speaker, so some of those lines were just cringey). If she had a greater role or purpose, perhaps in a longer book, I would have been okay with it. But for the length we have, she was just pointless.

The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg is an enjoyable fantasy novel that is a pretty easy read and fairly light, for all its dark tones. It’s a good intro book into fantasy for teens I’d say that want to start slow.

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

 The Alchemists of Loom
by Elise Kova

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

Book 1 of the Loom Saga

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Publication: January 10, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

Ariana had a bomb, three bullets, two refined daggers, a mental map of her heist, and a magic winch-box. All she waited for now was darkness.

Those first two sentences alone sucked me into The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova. This was such a great fantasy book reminiscent of Six of Crows and Red Queen. With amazing pacing that never lags, characters that feel whole and real, and a world that is completely unique and amazing, this is definitely a fantasy novel I can recommend to readers.

Kova does not coddle the reader, thrusting you immediately into her brand new world which is brilliant and devastating all at once. You pick up meanings, customs, divisions as you read, but even without knowing the specifics, you feel like the author knows exactly what she’s talking about. The world has depth to it and doesn’t need to be explicitly explained for you to understand.

The characters are great and well-rounded. Arianna is especially fantastic as a main character that is strong-willed, bold, cunning, and non-heteronormative! Cvareh the Dragon (not a Smaug dragon btw) is her counterpart, arrogant and brash, more reaction than planned action. The glue holding them together is timid Florence. The three form a tiny little kinship to visit the Alchemists of Loom, each having their own reasons which they don’t necessarily share completely with the others.

If you’re looking for a new young adult fantasy that has solid grounding, an intricate plot, and characters that feel more like people than flat words on a page, please do yourselves a favor and pick up The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova. It is a great book that makes me want to pick up her previous books as I wait for the second in the series.

IF you pre-order the book and email proof, you can get some pretty nifty swag. More info on Kova’s website

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Quotes & Excerpts

Adulthood just meant finding the variety of crazy that resonated the most with you and doing it until you died or it killed you — whichever came first.
pg 177

But a soul driven by vengeance was a selfish soul. A soul driven by vision was a generous one — one that bore itself before others and put the needs of the many before the needs of the few.
pg 357

About the Author


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Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

Metronome by Oliver Langmead

Metronome by Oliver Langmead

 Metronome
by Oliver Langmead

The Sleepwalkers hunt the nightmares that haunt sleeping minds. They traverse the connected dreamworlds where reason is banished and the imagination holds sway.

But tonight, one Sleepwalker has gone rogue. Abandoning her oath to protect the dreamscapes, she devotes herself to another cause, threatening to unleash a nightmare older than man

Once a feted musician, Manderlay lives in an Edinburgh care home, riddled with arthritis. He longs for his youth and the open seas, to regain the use of his hands and play the violin again.

For too long, Manderlay’s nights have been host to dark, corrupted dreams. His comrades in the retirement home fear Manderlay is giving in to age and senility – but the truth is much worse. The dreamworld is mapped with music – and one of Manderlay’s forgotten compositions holds the key to an ancient secret. The Sleepwalkers are closing in on him. He might be their saviour, or his music might be their damnation…

Rated: ★★½
Publisher: Unsung Stories
Publication: January 17 2017
Genre: Dreampunk, Fantasy, Surrealist
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Metronome by OIiver Langmead

SUCH an interesting concept and fantastic execution, Metronome by Oliver Langmead is a thought provoking, yet fun read. Manderlay’s adventures into the land of dreams is exciting. The idea of nightmares as something that must be physically fought and defeated is great. What Langmead does with the nightmares, his description of them, is smart, keeping them relatively nondescript so that the reader can imagine what they are.

The story takes three turns, each of which are equally interesting. The first, we see Manderlay as an elderly man living in an assisted living home suffering from arthritis and repeated nightmares. Learning more about him and his life would have made for a lovely contemporary novel. How did he get there? Why? What’s happened to his family? We never find out as it isn’t necessary for the story, yet, I was so endeared by Manderlay, I really wish I knew.

The second turn happens when Manderlay decides to stay dreaming to correct a mistake. This is when all of the action happens and the people he comes across are so interesting, especially March. The more we find out about March and the bits we find out about his life outside of dreams, the more I love him and want a story about him and his adventures. All of the characters are people I’d love to know more about, which is a testament to how well Langmead writes that his side characters are just as developed and interesting as his main character.

The last turn, well, I won’t say much on that because it is a spoiler, but it’s a great one that leaves you wondering what the heck just happened! It’s such an interesting thing to think about, yet it just makes sense.

A fun, fast-paced, and well developed book, Metronome by Oliver Langmead is sure to please both fantasy fans, as well as surrealists and intellectuals. However, it will leave some frustrated and wanting more (which can be the mark of a good writer, I suppose, but still I WANT MORE!)

About the Author

Oliver Langmead was born in Edinburgh and lives in Glasgow. He has an LLB in Law, and an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study with a distinction, and is currently working towards an MLitt in Fantasy. His first book, Dark Star, featured in the Guardian’s Best Books of 2015.

Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis

Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis

 Cedric the Demonic Knight
by
 Valerie Willis

Lord Cedric du Romulus may be a powerful knight, but he’s no human nor does he like masquerading as one. He is a mixed blood demon made by Sorceress Morrighan in her quest to create an army of powerful underlings. Seeking out ever-stronger enemies, he devours them for their power; nothing is safe from his fangs whether they are beasts, demons, or magic wielders. When he finds himself staring at Morrighan’s castle, will he be able to follow through with his life’s ambition and leave behind his lover and wife, Lady Angeline who herself is an heir to a legacy of unknown magic.

Book 1 of the Cedric Series

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Battle Goddess Productions
Publication: February 9, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis

The Morrigan, demons, magic, and knights, Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis had me sold with the synopsis. Then, I saw the cover and thought oh no, did I make a mistake? The cover didn’t grab me or sell me as much as the synopsis did. I put off reading it, thinking oh no, I have made a mistake. But finally, I picked it up and boy oh boy, is this another case of not judging a book by its cover. The writing is actually really great, as is the story!

The writing is incredibly solid and very reminiscent of typical high fantasy novels. It is structured and descriptive, but not overly so to the point where readers become bogged down or bored. The dialogue feels natural, but is a bit nasty for my taste. I know why the character speaks the way he does, but it doesn’t help keep me from cringing when he does and gets misogynistic.

The plot is also typical of fantasy. There is the overarching goal — destroy Morrighan. The distractions — beasts, discovery of self. The improbability of survival. Cedric, after accidentally acquiring a witchy blooded wife, is on a quest to destroy his makers. A father and a literal maker who designed his birth almost as though he were a lab experiment.

THE ROMANCE! Boy oh boy! I had read another book which I had to DNF and will not receive a review, but it was just sex that made no sense with no story just 10% in. This, on the other hand, was all teasing and no act. When the romantic interests finally give in to their passion, fade to black. Talk about sexual frustration!

This is a fantasy series, despite its drab cover, that really lives up to the genre and is a great read. I wholeheartedly recommend Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis to readers that like a mix of Arthurian fantasy mixed with demons and witchcraft with a sprinkle of sex and romance.

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Quotes & Excerpts

There could be no more crying. There was no more room for the naïve Angeline in this new world of darkness
-Chapter Fifteen

About the Author

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Valerie WillisValerie Willis, a sixth generation Floridian, launched her first book, Cedric the Demonic Knight, at the start of 2014 on Amazon.com. Since then, she has launched the second book to The Cedric Series, Romasanta: Father of Werewolves (2015), with several installments to come in this high rated Fantasy Romance Series. She pulls in a melting pot of mythology, folklores, history and more into her work with a remarkable amount of foreshadowing that makes reading her books a second time exciting. Also she recently published Rebirth the first book in her Teen Urban Fantasy, the Tattooed Angels Trilogy. Currently on the table to be completed is book two for the Tattooed Angels Trilogy, Judgment and book three in The Cedric Series, The Oracle.

A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

 A Bond of Venom and Magic
by Karen Tomlinson

The Wraith Lord is hunting; his prize, the key to unleashing darkness and Chaos upon the eight Kingdoms.

For Diamond Gillon the war raging in the south seems a remote danger until her home is brutally attacked. Having lost everything she holds dear, Diamond is catapulted into a terrifying new world in which legendary beasts arise, magic is condemned and half blood fae, like her, have no rights. Despite her growing feelings for her saviour, Commander Hugo Casimir, he remains a paradox – not only is he a heartless killer, he is owned by the cruel immortal fae queen; a queen who will murder her own people for magic.

As Diamond’s circumstances become ever more perilous she is drawn deeper into Hugo’s world and discovers the lengths to which he will go to save what he holds dear. Will Hugo become her friend, her protector, or – an enemy not worthy of her trust?

A Bond of Venom and Magic is a tale of two people bound by magic and secrets, but trapped in the complexities of love and betrayal. It is the beginning of an epic journey, one that will test Diamond’s resolve and determination to battle an evil that threatens not only her world but that of Eternity, the land of The Guardians and The Goddess.

Book 1 of The Goddess and the Guardians series

Rated: ★★★
Publication: October 14, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Romance

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

Full of action and romance, A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson is fast paced and exciting. Characters are great and so is the story and lore. I absolutely loved this book and devoured it quickly because I needed to know what would happen next. I mean, heck, I even went and tweeted author Tomlinson because of what was going on in the story.

Protagonist Diamond will not be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ll start off by saying that. She isn’t reminiscent of other recent female YA fantasy protagonists who fight, sneak, or play games. Diamond, instead, is innocent and guileless. Overprotected by her father, living in a small town, she never learned how to fight or fend for herself. So, when she’s forced to fight, she can’t. It’s aggravating but also humanizing. I loved that she had anxiety and panic attacks, simply because it made her relatable as someone who also experiences anxiety and has had panic attacks. I mean, if you’re suddenly forced into battle after being coddled your entire life, panic attacks make sense!

Opposite Diamond is Hugo. Now, Hugo, Hugo, Hugo. I don’t know what to make of him. Part of me loves him. Part of me doesn’t. Most of me is reminded of Edward Cullen. He’s broody, overprotective, aggressive, possessive, etc. It makes sense in the context of the story, but still, it’s written so over-the-top that I was left wondering how anyone could ignore his feelings or be oblivious to them. It does get resolved towards the end, but it was still distracting.

So, you might be thinking, given the problems with Diamond and Hugo, how is this a four star book? Easy. It works. Diamond needs protecting and Hugo is over-protective. It just clicks and makes your heart flutter, which is surprising for me to say since I actually want to pair Diamond with human Prince Jack, who, given his limited page time, has me completely smitten. He’s the best and I love him and want to see more of him. I know end game will be Diamond/Hugo, but it doesn’t detract me from wishing for Diamond/Jack.

There is something that happens in the ending that did leave me disappointing. A character takes a turn, and it doesn’t really gel with everything that has happened up until that point. Usually, an author would leave tiny hints that could click into place when the turn happens, but I didn’t feel it with this book. It felt completely undeserved and really knocked a star off the rating.

A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson has solid characters, but tentative lore. It feels like Tomlinson does know what she’s writing about, but hasn’t wanted to put anything in stone yet. That said, this was a fun read that I would recommend to fans of the Twilight series or the Sookie Stackhouse series, but looking for abstinent YA.

Still not convinced? Sign up for her mailing list and you’ll get the first five chapters free!

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About the Author

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Karen Tomlinson is the author of The Goddess and the Guardians series of Young Adult fantasy books. Book one A Bond of Venom and Magic will be released October 14th 2016.

Karen has always been an avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic but she likes nothing better than an exciting fantasy, set in a new and magical world. She lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, twin girls and her dalmatian, Poppy. Karen trained as a nurse and currently works as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer, this involves training a wide variety of health care professionals and medical students in acute patient care. In addition to writing, and reading whenever she can, Karen likes to keep active. She has been training at Shotokan karate since being thirteen, likes walking, mountain biking and (for something completely different) cake decorating. She is currently working on book two in The Goddess and the Guardians series.

About me!

As soon as I could read I spent hours getting lost in the new worlds books could give me. Spending my pocket money had to be done (obviously) but not on sweets, well, not many…I spent my money on books. Back then it was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five which sparked my young mind. I didn’t rest until I had the whole set, then I migrated to the secret seven…(there was no Harry Potter then) As a teenager I would trawl through all my mum and dad’s discarded books. It was probably highly inappropriate for a thirteen year old to be reading swoony Mills and Boon romances followed by Ian Flemming, Alistair Maclean and Wilbur Smith!
Because I read anything and everything I could get my hands on back then, I now have an eclectic taste in books. I will read anything that catches my eye and absolutely love illustrated book covers! In my late teens I discovered fantasy and that genre has stayed my firm favourite. I am and will always remain a complete sucker for a fantasy with kick ass characters and worlds steeped in magic and romance!

Lost Gods by Brom

Lost Gods by BROM

 Lost Gods
by BROM

A young man descends into Purgatory to save his wife and unborn child in this gorgeous, illustrated tale of wonder and terror from the mind of master storyteller and acclaimed artist Brom

Fresh out of jail and eager to start a new life, Chet Moran and his pregnant wife, Trish, leave town to begin again. But an ancient evil is looming, and what seems like a safe haven may not be all it appears . . .

Snared and murdered by a vile, arcane horror, Chet quickly learns that pain and death are not unique to the living. Now the lives and very souls of his wife and unborn child are at stake. To save them, he must journey into the bowels of purgatory in search of a sacred key promised to restore the natural order of life and death. Alone, confused, and damned, Chet steels himself against the unfathomable terrors awaiting him as he descends into death’s stygian blackness.

With Lost Gods, Brom’s gritty and visceral prose takes us on a haunting, harrowing journey into the depths of the underworld. Thrust into a realm of madness and chaos, where ancient gods and demons battle over the dead, and where cabals of souls conspire to overthrow their masters, Chet plays a dangerous game, risking eternal damnation to save his family.

Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication: October 25, 2016
Genre: Dark Fantasy
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
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Rated: ★★★½

Lost Gods by BROM

I originally picked Lost Gods by BROM up to be part of a Spooktober read. Then, discovered it wasn’t so much spooky as it was just a really great dark fantasy book full of interesting mythology. Pacing was a little off at times, but the story was amazing. It reminded me of the Greek tragedies where heroes are sent on a quest in the Underworld only to reach an end they were not expecting. What Brom captures in Lost Gods is eerily close enough to what I’ve always pictured an underworld type place to be after death.

The story starts off with a bang. Well, multiple bangs. We meet protagonist Chet who, fresh off a stint in prison, is back to reunite with his pregnant girlfriend, promising to do right this time. They run off, Chet “accidentally” killing someone in the process, and arrive at his grandmother’s house. This is when everything goes to hell, literally. But, it’s also when the most fun is had. Chet makes friends and with them, they travel through the various parts of hell to find his grandfather, who supposedly, has the key to saving his unborn daughter and girlfriend from the horror that took him.

Along the way, he meets various gods and it is just so interesting. I loved this concept, that pagan gods still exist, in their own tiny place, welcoming whatever worshipers happen to arrive in the modern day. However, as more people take up the “modern” religions and forget the ancients, the less power they seem to have. The world is just so interesting and fantastic. I’d love to read more adventures of souls maneuvering their way through the underworld. Follow stories of townies that live there and haggle. Pirates in the underworld. All of it, I want it.

Character development and personal growth, we see a bit of that with Chet, but also Ana and a few of the gods. But honestly, it’s just the great plot and amazing world building that really makes Lost Gods by BROM a standout read.

 

Quotes & Excerpts

“Yes, but which god? All have hopes that the afterlife will somehow be an orderly place. Death is madness and chaos — a hundred gods fighting over the dead. Sense, reason, fairness… they’re all foreigners here.”
– Chapter 12

“Know what?” He gave her a wicked grin. “Peter Pan once said, ‘Death is a mighty big adventure.’ I’m going with that.”
– Chapter 13

About the Author

BROM

Over the past decades, Brom has lent his distinctive vision to all facets of the creative industries, from novels and games, to comics and film. His books include Krampus,The Child Thief, and the award-winning illustrated horror novels The Plucker and The Devil’s Rose. Brom is currently kept in a dank cellar somewhere just outside of Seattle, Washington.

The Reader by Traci Chee

The Reader by Traci Chee

 The Reader
by Traci Chee

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication: September 13, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
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Rated: ★★★★

The Reader by Traci Chee

If ever there was a time I really, really wished I was a teacher already, it’s when I find phenomenal books that I know young adults will love. This is the case with The Reader by Traci Chee. An absolutely brilliant debut by the author, it is intriguing and heart breaking, yet full of hope all at once.

The Reader is extremely well-written, Ms. Chee expertly able to render heartache so moving the reader is brought to tears, yet equally demonstrates skill in the more tender and magical moments. Without her skill, The Reader would not have been effective at all, considering it is a novel built on the premise of learning to read and sharing knowledge via books. Describing the magical, powerful moment when Sefia first teaches herself to read, making it a visual sensation, is breathtaking, especially for someone such as myself that works in a semi to non-literate community. This would be something I would wholeheartedly recommend to the twelve to seventeen year old crowd, but obviously appeals to all ages since it’s just an amazing journey with strong characters. Plus, watching someone, even a fictional character, learn how knowledge and books can be power, can be used as a weapon to defend yourself with is so empowering and inspiring.

Each of the characters are complex and fully developed. Sefia, our main protagonist is marked by her many losses and driven forward, first as a rescue mission, then for vengeance, and finally for answers. She rescues, then befriends Archer, a caged boy forced to fight as part of a mysterious plot. They grow to care for each other, without hesitation or limitations. Sefia’s strength comes not from her anger or bitterness, but her goodness and soft nature. The same can be said of Archer who is an expert killer, seemingly against his own will. 

If you’re a fan of Leigh Bardugo’s work, you will definitely fall in love with The Reader by Traci Chee. The writing is great, the action fantastic, and our two main characters just leave me wanting to keep them safe and happy and warm in blankets with cocoa.

Quotes & Excerpts

 

Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
The Book

But books are curious objects. They have the power to trap, transport, and even transform you if you are lucky. But in the end, books — even magic ones — are only objects pieced together from paper and glue and thread. That was the fundamental truth the readers forgot. How vulnerable the book really was.
To fire.
To the damp.
To the passage of time.
And to theft.
The Book

They say that fear is a pit in your stomach, but what she felt was a dissolving, as if the fog was burning off and frittering away, leaving behind only Sefia, bare and defenseless with nothing before or behind her but emptiness.
Chapter 3: The House on the Hill Overlooking the Sea

“Book.” Sefia grinned.
For a moment, she felt as if the marks were bright and burning. Gold crept in at the corners of her vision. Then she blinked, and the whole world flooded with light, whirling all around her in wide interconnected circles, up into the sky and among the stars. She’d seen the light before, but this one showed her the world was full of little golden currents, a million of them and a trillion motes of light, all perfect and exact and brimming with meaning.
Chapter 4: This Is a Book

It was as if, all this time, she’d been locked out, catching glimpses of some magical world through the crack beneath a door. But the book was the key, and if she could figure out how to use it, she’d be able to open the door, uncovering the magic that lay, rippling and shifting in unseen currents, beyond the world she experienced with her ears and tongue and fingertips.
Chapter 4: This Is a Book

Her voice rang out like a bell. “Maybe they’ll remember you, Cannek Reed,” she said, looking at each of the crew in turn, letting her gaze come to rest, finally, on Camey, who scratched his hooked nose uncomfortably. “But who’s going to remember your crew?”
pg 170

“It’s the same with stories as it is with people,” Meeks said, his brown eyes gleaming in the dwindling light of the sunset, “they get better as they get older. But not every story is remembered, and not all people grow old.”
Pg 293