Title & Author: Children of Lightning, Annie K. Wong
Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy, September 27, 2014
Book Description: “Secrets beget secrets. The curse that befell the Hollows clan has left them incapable of producing male offspring. To extend their bloodline, they have formed a covenant with the serpentine Ophidians, who give them children. In return, the Hollows must keep these monstrous creatures well fed, though the details of the procurement are so abominable that the truth is never revealed to the other clans. In their homeland of Matikki, they live like outcasts.
Through a series of chance discoveries, the secrets of the ancient curse unfold before a warrior named Writhren Hollow. Is her purely female clan the result of a lapse of divine providence, or are the Hollows themselves victims of an enslavement scheme?
If Writhren frees her clan from the covenant, she risks the wrath of the Ophidians and the future of her bloodline. If she keeps the truth of the curse to herself, she is a traitor to her own kind. Either way, she will suffer for what she must do.
This is not a story of redemption, but regret. This is Writhren’s story.”
First Line: The last time mother drank from Snake River was at the Siamese Peaks a couple days ago, when she caught a final glimpse of her village on the distant slopes of Gash Valley hazy with smoke from hut chimneys slithering up the salmon sky on the first day of spring.
My Take: This book was provided by the author for review.
Lots of imagination in this one (and awesome cover art!). The author constructed a whole new world with creatures of her own invention. Originality is what makes the fantasy genre great and why I’m such a fan of it. The story has a lot of adventure and suspense in it but several points kept me from loving it.
First, I had a little geography confusion. As is apparent just from the first line, there were a lot of names of places, cities, mountain ranges or regions. I had trouble visualizing where everything was situated and wondered if I should grab my GPS. A map would be a good addition to help orient the reader.
I also had mild confusion as to the creatures inhabiting the world. Many didn’t have a lot of lines, if any, so references to them were hard to integrate into the greater plot. It also took me a good while to understand that the term “lucerians” was the umbrella name of all peoples, like “humans”. Did I miss something?
Some of the political background was hard to sort out as well because it wasn’t given much time throughout the plot but the details were relevant at the end. I think if some of this was more clearly defined or integrated into the whole, that would’ve made it easier to follow.
There is definitely a character arc for the protagonist, Writhren, but our girl was hard to root for, and not in that flawed, love-to-hate-her kind of way. I didn’t really like her, especially toward the end of the book. She had some sympathetic traits in the first part but in part two she was kind of a turd. The book description warns that this is not a story of redemption, but regret. I didn’t see any regret and it seemed more that her actions were motivated by self-interest than the greater good.
All that being said, the story kept me interested and I wanted to find out what would happen next. This speaks to the writer’s skill. There’s gripping action and continual conflict which makes for enjoyable reading.
The Magical: Loved the Ophidians. Big ass sentient snakes with attitude and power, woot, woot! I enjoyed their scenes.
And snakes for hair, yesssss (sorry, pun obligation). Usually protagonists are fully human but not so here. Writhren and her kind (plurans) are tall, strong and sport a living, symbiotic quaff. These follicles spit venom, sense things when the eyes are closed and they can even hold your weapon for you if need be. Jeez, all my hair does is hang there and frizz when the rain comes.
The Mundane: The author writes great action. When things were happening, I was captivated. So, I was really bummed when the war that was brewing in part one was completely over when part two began. “But-but there were going to be battles, bloodshed, possible gore and despair!” I whined. In real life war is tragedy, but in fiction it’s relished. I don’t recommend fomenting one in the beginning only to skip it completely. It leaves one feeling cheated.
Summary of Thoughts: Ambitious creativity, which is great. Risk taking in fiction is what makes a book better than TV. There’s a lot of good action in this tale but also a helping of confusion as well. I’d recommend a map for sure and to either clarify some things that didn’t get a lot of stage time or just remove them completely. Having it in-between is like drinking lukewarm tea–still good but not completely satisfying.
Many thanks to author Annie K. Wong for providing a copy of the book to review.
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