Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Sapphire Flute by Karen Hoover

It is with great pleasure that I review The Sapphire Flute Book One, The Wolfchild Saga, by Karen E. Hoover. The reason I'm finding pleasure in doing it is because I really, truly enjoyed the book. When I do reviews, I like to do them in bullet points, because it helps me think clearly and boil down what I thought of the book to its essence. So first, I'll include the book's backliner from Valor Publishing's site and then I'll tell you what I thought.

"It has been 3,000 years since a white mage has been seen upon Rasann.

In the midst of a volcanic eruption miles outside of her village, Ember discovers she can see magic and change the appearance of things at will. Against her mother's wishes, she leaves for the mage trials only to be kidnapped before arriving. In trying to escape, she discovers she has inherited her father's secret--a secret that places her in direct conflict with her father's greatest enemy.

At the same time, Kayla is given guardianship of the sapphire flute and told not to play it. The evil mage C'Tan has been searching for it for decades and the sound alone is enough to call her. For the flute to be truly safe, Kayla must find its birthplace in the mountains high above Javak. The girls' paths are set on a collision course...a course that C'Tan is determined to prevent at all costs."

What worked for me:
* The premise. I love the idea of a world in danger of destruction and not one, but two girls/women are destined to save it.

* The setting. The world of Rasann is full of magic and wonder, shapeshifters and mages. The physical settings are beautifully described and full of good imagery.

* The cast of characters. I liked the two main characters, Ember and Kayla. They are different, with varying strengths and weaknesses, and in this book they are fledglings. The potential for growth is evidenced right away, and it was clear to me as the reader that we will see these characters evolve throughout the series.

* The bad guy. Or woman, rather. There are a few bad guys to choose from, but I liked that although C'Tan is evil, there's a tiny spark of regret that surfaces every now and again. That makes her seem more real to me.

* The old-fashioned feel of the story. I like the use of horses and carriages. The absence of electricity is made up for with magic, which I was totally able to go with. Lights, for example, are "mage lights," lit with the use of magic.

* The author doesn't spare her main, likable characters from pain. Snapped bones, people nearly plunging to their deaths at the hands of a sadistic bad girl and her dragon--call me sick, but I appreciated this. An author needs to raise the stakes and put her characters through the wringer- Karen does that.

* The quick nature of the plot, once the story and characters are established, especially in the last third of the book. I was nearing the end of the story and picking my kids up from school. I waited for my daughter to come out of the building, and when she got in the car, I told her she had to keep reading to me while I drove to the next school. That's the mark of a good story, to me. If I don't want to put it down, that means I like it. :-)

* The overall skill of the writer. I found myself not wanting to rephrase things, or "fix" segments that I felt would be better expressed in another way. I felt as though I was in the hands of a good writer.

Possible issues with the book:
Now, admittedly I had to search for some, because nothing is perfect, right? That said, the things I had issues with are minor.

* I didn't care for Ember's mother. I understand her motivation, but just had a hard time warming up to her. That was probably the author's intention, though.

* There's a familial tie between the two girls that was never defined fully; I'm sure this will be delved into in the next book, though, which leads into my next point:

* I wanted the girls to meet! Also something that will occur in the next book of the series, I'm sure.

* I don't like that I'll have to wait a year to see what happens next. :-)

My final opinion of the book is that it is very well done, creative, and delivers a satisfying, climactic ending with enough resolution to hold the reader over until the next installment. There's an anticipation for the sequel, but the characters are in a good enough place...for now. It was a good reading experience, and I look forward to the next book. Now I'm passing it on to my kids, who saw it on the table and said, "Hey, what's that?"


Karen Hoover said...

Nancy, I love your way of commenting on this with the bullet points, and I appreciate that you are honest in the issues as well as the positives. You aren't the first to complain that the girls don't meet in book one! lol And yes, the familial relationship WILL be defined in book two. Thank you for the wonderful review! You are awesome!

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Karen, you're so welcome! I really enjoyed the book, and am so looking forward to the sequel. You are so clever!!

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

I can't believe I used the word "so" so many times in that post. Der.

Karen Hoover said...

Nancy, you crack me up! lol You can use 'SO' around me as much as you want. NO complaints here!!! ((hugs))

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Nice review! I'll have to check it out. I'm glad I found your blog. Hope to see you at the Storymakers conference. :)

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Kathi- how fun to hear from you! Yes, I'll be at the conference, and I can't wait! :-)

Arlene said...

Nancy - I am so glad I found your blog. I had been searching for info on the Isabelle Webb sequel and found this blog awhile back. Although I don't check daily [obviously], I have just read that you finished the sequel. I have read all your books [all in my library] and have loved them all, especially the Faith of Our Fathers Series. Keep up the good work and can't wait for the sequel.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Arlene, thank you so much! I'm flattered and grateful that you took the time to let me know this. I don't know yet when the sequel will be released, but as soon as I find out, I will announce it far and wide!

Again, thank you so much!!