Title & Author: Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles Book One), Intisar Khanani
Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy, January 9, 2014
Book Description: “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.”
First Line: “Mgeni! Stay a moment; I have your future for you.”
My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.
You know those books that you start reading and find a story so captivating that you cannot stop reading until you reach the end? This book is one of those.
The story revolves around Hitomi, brave, compassionate, resourceful orphan girl who, despite her hard scrabble life, still strives to make the world a better place. Her hometown of Karolene is under the political influence of a bad Arch Mage called Blackflame, a man who oppresses the inhabitants. People disappear. Voices are silenced. As the description states, Hitomi is part of the Shadow League that works to free Karolene from him. The author wastes no time creating this intricate and detailed political situation in a compelling and believable way while simultaneously weaving in the details of the overall world (which includes magic, mages, and other fantastical creatures). Beautifully done.
Things are happening from the first moment to the last, never sagging or getting dull. As one chapter ends, I was desperate to get to the next. Like I said, I couldn’t put the thing down. And while there’s magic in this story it isn’t used as a catch-all to rescue the character from every sticky situation. It comes at a cost — like all magic in good tales do — and requires clever thought combined with a little elbow grease to accomplish what’s needed, something which Hitomi never shies away from.
As if all that didn’t already make this a great story, at about the halfway point the book straps on a turbo booster and goes from amazing to unbelievably awesome! I won’t say why, but trust me you’ll know it when you get there.
The Magical: So many things to choose from but I think my favorite has got to be the “breather” — No, not a 2am prank caller — but a creature who uses the life-force of other living things to sustain itself. Harry Potter may have used “Dementors” that can do this, but believe me, the breather in this story is completely different. What a fascinating character! I loved the interactions with Hitomi.
The Mundane: N/A — No, that’s not a typo. It’s real. It happened. I have nothing to add in this spot.
Summary of Thoughts: What a ride! I adored this book so, so much! It’s exciting, it’s full of adventure, intrigue, suspense. It has themes of courage and sacrifice, of prejudice and abandonment, all told through Hitomi’s sensitive and courageous voice. A seriously wonderful book that anyone who loves fantasy will enjoy. Currently it’s just $0.99 but this may change with the coming sequel, so go get your copy right now people!! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple
Many thanks to author Intisar Khanani for providing a copy of the book to review!
Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here
Want know more about this author and her work? Explore her website here
IMPORTANT: The sequel, “Memories of Ash”, is coming out May 30th and you can pre-order it for just $0.99 until the release: Amazon | B&N (Nook) | Kobo | Apple. Yours truly snagged an advance copy of it (oh yeah!) so look for the review here around the release date (spoiler: LOVED IT!).
Intisar was also interviewed on Amid the Imaginary. Click here to read it!