Sunbolt, the first tome of a promising Fantasy YA series written by Intisar Khanani, might be the best surprise of the beginning of the year for me, and I genuinely believe that it deserves way more high praise than it gets. Curious to know why?
Let’s make a list of why you should read it too, shall we?
► Sunbolt reminded me why I loved the Fantasy genre in the first place. I don’t know when 1K+ novels have become the norm in that genre, and I don’t deny that several of my favorite books are (very) long but in my opinion it allowed the genre to become a bit… self-indulgent sometimes. Does your story need 1,000 pages? GOOD. Do it. However, if the story is over winded and wordy for the sake of being wordy, crammed with filler parts, I’ll side-eye you. Hard. No such thing with Sunbolt : indeed Intisar Khanani manages to pack more action in 150 pages than others would in 1,000 (I wish I’d joke. I do not). Boredom never even grazed me, but rather : the story was engaging from the very first page and never lost momentum.
► Hitomi, the main character, is smart, resilient and loyal and I love her very much. I cannot see why you wouldn’t too. Plus she’s biracial (her father is from a Middle-Easter inspired region and her mother, I think, is from a Japanese-inspired region) and the difficulties she meets because of other people’s prejudices are briefly discussed in text, which is something I really appreciated. Yet above everything, what I liked the most about her was the way she challenged her own stereotypes – about the fangs, the breathers, who are different races present in the book – and evolved. The Fantasy genre often revolves around coming-of-age stories, and Sunbolt is no different in that aspect, but we get a real and believable character growth and that’s not so frequent, unfortunately.
► The secondary characters – and one especially, but I won’t say – were intriguing and interesting enough for me to be eager to meet them again in the sequel. I never got the feeling that Intisar Khanani wasted any one of her characters, but on the contrary, they were given the depth they needed to keep me guessing.
► The world-building, albeit classic at first glance, is so well-crafted and rich that it felt refreshing : sure, Intisar Khanani‘s world includes magic, supernatural creatures and a political landscape that could appear similar to other stories, yet the way she winded all these elements together made me feel like I was reading something new. I wanted to know more, and I even started to take notes about the different creatures in order to… what, exactly? Prepare myself for a fight? I do not know, except that I found myself shaking my head slightly and resuming my read, lol.
► The plot is so compelling, and, again, gave me the impression that the author created something really original, even though it’s a coming-of-age at heart, as it’s often the case in Fantasy. Yet there’s no romance, which is rare enough in Fantasy YA to deserve our attention : I mean, you know I love romance, but I’m pretty tired of the way every Fantasy YA ever needs to include a romance, and who cares if the relationship lacks chemistry and you know, sense.
Win a PAPERBACK COPY of Sunbolt! (3 winners picked)
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