Synopsis: 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.
Bookish Things: At only 142 pages, this book left me wanting to know more. The cover is stunning and eye catching, yet simple and very easy to read.
Hitomi, our protagonist, is a young woman who has dragged herself out of the gutter after losing her parents. She lives by her wits, occasionally having to resort to stealing from the street vendors, but normally doing any job she can find for herself. She is fiercely loyal and dependable and mixed up with the Shadow League – an underground group who seek to overthrow the shadowy villain, Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame – to restore Karolene to its former glory.
The richness of the world that Hitomi finds herself in, is a true testament to Intisar’s craft. The intricate details are woven seamlessly into the story, coaxing the reader head-first into the grimy alleys and cells Hitomi frequents. The action scenes are crisp, the writing so taut and to the point it almost sucker-punches the reader in the guts and the pacing of the story is simply perfection. Not too fast, not too slow, the reader is drip fed the information needed not a moment too soon.
When it comes to character development, Intisar once again is leaps and bounds ahead of a lot of authors I’ve read. Not only are each of the characters (even the side characters) three dimensional and complex, but they each have an individual personality that sees them exploding out of the pages and into the readers imagination. Personal choices are weighed and measured in serious situations and the characters must decide who to trust and who to leave behind. Betrayal plays a part in the story, but it’s wielded with an expert hand, allowing the appropriate amount of anguish and confusion without losing sight of the goals.
The fangs and lycans make an appearance, and while having been done to death in popular books lately, in this instance have been given a new breath of life. They’re rubbing shoulders with ‘breathers’ who are rather sinister beasts themselves. Breathers made me think of the mummified character of Imhotep from the movie, The Mummy. Creepy!
All this is tied together with a magical system that felt organically sewn into the story. Normally magical books seem like the magic could be removed from the book and it’d make little difference, in Sunbolt however, the magic has been fused with the storyline, the characters and even the cities and places explored in the story. If you removed the magic, you’d remove the story. It’s so brilliantly done.
I loved this book so much, I am going to purchase the other two stories Intisar has written and I’ll be reading them soon.
I cannot wait for the other books in this series to be released.
I look forward to reading more about Val and Hitomi and the rest of the motley cast.
Do yourself a favour – buy this book today. You will not be disappointed.
**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review**