Friday, August 22, 2008

Review: _Gilfeather_ by Glenda Larke

Write what you know is a motto writers follow using their knowledge and experience to bring their fiction to life. Glenda Larke uses what she knows to create a vivid, engaging story in her “Isles of Glory” trilogy. In the second book Gilfeather, Glenda Larke invents a gripping, exciting book through setting, characters and plot.

The setting makes the book exciting by being interesting. Ms. Larke is an Australian living in Malaysia. She uses her knowledge from these places to bring the story to life. Her setting is an archipelago of islands made up of different cultures. Magic consists of two groups, sylvs who can heal and dunmagickers who destroy and blight people’s lives. A third group are the Aware who can see magic and are immune to magic. The story starts on the island of Mekate, which has a tropical coast and the highland part of the island inhabited by independent minded people that herd selvers. The Plainsmen have a unique sense of smell that plays a major role in the story. The Xolchas Stacks is an interesting island group made of columns of land where the people live. These stacks will occasionally fall into the sea. Both islands add an intriguing touch to the book due to Ms. Larke’s unique ideas.

Next, the characters are realistic with flaws that keep the book suspenseful. This book focuses on the character Gilfeather. He is a Plainsman and physician from Mekate. His life changes after his path crosses with two women and he must deal with a crisis of conscience. Blaze and Flame return with problems still dogging them. Blaze must deal with worry for her friend’s increasing nasty behavior. Flame is consumed with killing the Dunmaster who corrupted her. These characters are brought to life by Ms. Larke’s wonderful descriptions.

In the end, the book's plot keeps the story exciting for readers. The book starts with Gilfeather traveling to a town because of his wife. She is going to be stoned for adultery. He meets Blaze and Flame, finding himself a fugitive because of them. Gilfeather gets caught up on the women’s pursuit of the Dunmaster Morthred to kill him. His people do not believe in magic or murder. Wanting to live quietly in exile, Gilfeather finds himself drawn to helping Blaze and Flame for various reasons. The plot continues at a rapid pace until reaching a gripping conclusion. Ms. Larke weaves a strong plot that keeps readers interested to the end.

Gilfeather by Glenda Larke is the interesting second book of the “Isles of Glory” trilogy. Setting, characters and plot blend the create a gripping, exciting story. This keeps the middle book of the series from being slow and uninteresting. The author leaves enough events up in the air for the last book, The Tainted. I look forward to reading the last book soon.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Review: _The Silent Strength of Stones_ by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

A troubled teenage boy lives by a lake with his father running the store while his father manages the motel. One day a girl enters the store and magic enters his life, bringing changes. The Silent Strength of Stones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a delightful Urban Fantasy by a talented author. Characters, themes and plot keeps the book entertaining for readers.

The characters keep the book interesting by being sympathetic. Nick Verrou is a seventeen year old boy with some problems. He feels desperately trapped in his situation, used by his father to runt eh store, but dreams of leaving one day and never returning. Nick also has a strange power he does not understand. Into his life comes Willow and her brother Evan, two teenagers with magical powers. They have problems too such as being sent away by their parents to strict relatives to learn control of their powers. Evan is rebellious and needs stability in his life while Willow needs to learn not to enslave people. Ms. Hoffman makes these young characters sympathetic through dialogue and descriptions of their relationships.

Next, the themes explored in the book makes it entertaining because readers can identify with them. Abandonment is explored in all of the young people’s lives. Nick is dealing with his mother leaving four years before without explanation. He also feels abandoned by his father who always yells at him. Evan and Willow suffer abandonment by being sent away by their parents. Another theme is loneliness. Nick feels alone without friends and living in an isolated place. This feeling drives him to wanting to leave. He feeds his desire for friends by watching people. The author weaves these themes deftly into the story delicately.

Lastly, the fast paced plot of the book keeps it entertaining. Events begin moving when Nick comes back from his lunch to find a piece of his grandfather’s fishing equipment gone. The lady who spells him during lunch sold it to a man staying at a cabin by the lake. Nick’s father gets angry and demands him to get the piece back. When Nick tries to get it back, He encounters Willow and witnesses magic. Then Nick finds a friendly wolf which changes his life and precipitates further mysterious encounters. Nick must try to save Willow and Evan by the end of the book. Js. Hoffman creates an interesting plot by keeping events moving quickly to make it an enjoyable read.

The Silent Strength of Stones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman is an entertaining Urban Fantasy novel. The entertainment comes from the author’s talented handling of characters, themes and plot. The story of Nick’s coming of age and overcoming his problems is good. Though aimed at young adults, readers of any age will enjoy this book.