AUTHOR: Intisar Khanani
SERIES: The Sunbolt Chronicles (#1)
PUBLISHER: Purple Monkey Press
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure
RATING: 5/5 Stars
The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
What I Liked:
- I'll begin with the plot and pacing of Khanani's writing because they were probably the most impressive features of this story. Normally, a book that doesn't reach 200 pages feels short. Especially in Fantasy where I find that the balance of fast-paced action, world-building and character development needs to be just right in order for me to completely connect with it. Somehow though, I felt like I was reading a book double it's 141 page length. Khanani achieved that balance perfectly! There were some amazing twists and turns, and yet the level of detail was enough to wow me, but not so much that I got bored or the pace suffered.
- Such a colourful cast of characters certainly deserves a round of applause. Hitomi is a diamond when it comes to main characters. She is clever, strong and not so impulsive that she makes a whole host of reckless decisions which I see a lot in YA Fantasy. She had such a great personality that I adored her from the very beginning. The characters surrounding her (good and bad) were great too. The Ghost, Val, Kol, Blackflame, even Saira and the rest of the Degaths impressed me as well and I hope that I get to see all of them again in book two!
- Despite the use of some common Fantasy tropes, there is a lot of originality in this book. Khanani managed to put a twist on Vampirism and make it feel wholly new to me, despite not really actually changing anything, and I loved the idea of the Breathers. It makes me excited to think that the rest of the series might introduce a whole new host of monsters for me to think about! I loved the spin on Mages too, I'm fed up of them either being the good or bad guys. Their history actually felt complex in this one!
What I Disliked:
- It's hard for me to write anything here, but despite Khanani achieving the impossible by making the book feel long, I think it could have benefited from the tiniest bit more world-building. Perhaps a little bit more on Hitomi's past, or how she came to join up with The Ghost? Maybe a little more time with Val wouldn't have harmed it either. These are all really minor things and I think I will get these in the books to come, but there was certainly the page space for some more detail.
So a final word from a very pleased reader? Don't judge a book by it's cover, length, or your own experiences with the genre before. You may find yourself surprised. I certainly did, and I will definitely be reading more of this lady's work too! The book had a fantastic plot, with some gripping twists and gorgeous characters. I'm excited to see what happens to Hitomi and company, and look forward to the release of the next book! Why did I wait so long to read this?!