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It's the Island Life | Weekly Snapshot

By the time this post is published, we will all be back home, but right this moment, as I type this up, we are enjoying our last day at Daufuskie, a secluded island near Hilton Head, SC and Savannah, GA. We were lucky to score a cottage (without having to break the bank) with front-row access to the beach, something that has always been on my bucket list and that I was thrilled to cross off.  This week has been very refreshing and just what I needed - a getaway, a break from it all, a retreat with family with no thoughts of work, to-do lists, and chores getting in the way. The island sure runs on its own time. The streetlights aren't turned ON at night to avoid attracting turtles too far from their ideal nesting place. There's the alligator crossing time at night when they go from pond to pond visiting friends (and hence tourists are advised to stay home when it's dark). There are very few cars - instead the preferred mode of transportation is via golf carts, which can go o

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani


Sunbolt
Absolutely. Justice served with a side of pineapple. That's what I'm here for.

If you told me that I could potentially love a book that featured vampires, werewolves, and other paranormal characters, I would have smiled politely and promptly forgotten the book you were trying to recommend. (I do love Bram Stoker's Dracula though - one of the most original books I've ever read.) If I had spent any amount of time on Sunbolt's Goodreads page and saw that it was categorized under Paranormal Fantasy, I would probably not have given it even a few pages. But Jenny's review couple of months ago and my general lack of awareness regarding what the book was about worked in Sunbolt's favor. And boy, am I glad I read it!

Before you turn away, let me emphasize that although I did mention vampires and werewolves in the above paragraph, Sunbolt is less about them than it is about this magical world where many of these kinds of charactes co-exist. (Plus, no one is dating a vampire or proclaiming the many eye candy benefits of being with one.) Intisar Khanani is now on my list of of authors to watch out her. She writes a beautiful hand and a compelling tale.

Hitomi is a Promise, an untrained magician who is generally viewed with suspicion by most of the people of Karolene, where Hitomi lives. Not being native to Karolene, she tends to get picked on by people trying to cause trouble. Hitomi is also a part of the Shadow League, an underground movement whose main goal is to overthrow the corrupt and villainish Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame. When they get wind of a ploy by Blackflame to assassinate a leading politician, they try to save the latter and his family. But a lot of things go wrong and Hitomi finds herself captured with no chance of escape.

That, in a nutshell, is what Sunbolt is about. When I started reading the book, I found the writing very easy to get lost in and the book an addicting one to come back to every time. I wasn't quite sold on the plot initially but when I finished it, I couldn't quite stop believing that I loved it. That's a strange way to feel about a plot-oriented book that's more a novella than a full-length novel.

In Sunbolt, Khanani creates a world that feels very natural. She doesn't waste her time in world-building or introducing complex characters. She lets the plot do that at its own pace without making the reader feel lost. To me, that was one of the selling points of this book because the author takes you right into the heart of the book without running the risk of starting the book with a slow introduction.

Yes, there are supernatural characters and if you are like me, maybe you will prefer not having them in your books. To me though, these characters felt more substantial and relatable than the ones in a typical paranormal fantasy book. (Not that I have a problem with those characters - I do love the Vampire Diaries TV show, but this book is as far away from that brand of paranormalcy (paranormalism? paranormality? paranormaltion?) as possible.

Sunbolt is also super-diverse. It had a feel of being set in the Middle East and the character map could have easily spanned across the spectrum. It felt super good to read a fantasy set in a non-European, non-American locale. I'll be watching out for the next book in this series (trilogy?).


I received this book for free for review from the publisher via NetGalley.

Comments

bermudaonion(Kathy) said…
I can tell you loved this book but I'm not good with magical worlds so I'll think about it.
Aarti said…
I really liked this one, too! I like Khanani a lot. If you haven't read Thorn, I highly recommend that one, too :-)
Hooray! I'm glad you liked it! I've been super excited to read Thorn ever since I got through with Sunbolt.
literaryfeline said…
You've sold me on this one, Athira. This sounds like something I would really like.
iliana said…
I used to love vampires a lot more before they were everywhere but I do like the sound of this one! So glad you discovered this one and I'll have to add it to my radar!
jen mullen said…
I loved it! I also enjoyed Thorn by Khanani.