Sunday, May 22, 2016

Book Review: Sunbolt

Hello guys!

I don’t do much reviewing on my blog here, yes I talk books when the chance comes, like here and here. In fact the only book I officially reviewed was The Hobbit. And that was because I was enamored. A result of various reasons including my incurable crush on the Baggins Boys. Ehem. Anyway I wanted to read Sunbolt for a while now, and also promised the very nice and talented IntisarKhanani I would review it in celebration of the upcoming release of the sequel or the second book of The Sunbolt Chonicles; Memoriesof Ash (on May 30) so here we are. 

I have read for Intisar before, the short story The Bonknife, and her novel Thorn from witch I added Princes Alyrra to my ‘A’ Dream Team in the A to Z challenge. Both of these books were a pleasant read.

Thorn in particular is a book that I recommend, it’s a retelling of The Goose Girl fairy tale, which I wasn’t familiar with but it was pretty dark and thought provoking. A quality to all her writing.

Surprisingly, Thorn to me resembles Cinders by Michelle Argyle, a novella that tells what happens to Cinderella after she marries her prince charming, a beautifully written book but dismal and grim! (this is all your fault brothers Grimm).


Hitomi Rasheed Coldeye is an orphan who lives in the island of Karolene. She did many odd jobs to sustain a living for herself after the death of her parents and nowadays she describes herself as thief. She also works in the Shadow League under the Ghost and is about to embark on her first mission.
Did I mention she is a promise, i.e. a very powerful mage to be?

The highs:

The book has it’s rough edges, but the lyrical parts are beautiful, sometimes breathtaking…

“He drops me. I lie on the ground, watching the way the dead leaves stir in the faint breeze.”

Some descriptions are so vivid you feel transported there, the trip across the snow mountains in particular…
“We both wait then, I for the memory to crawl out of the flames, and he for my voice. Or perhaps he does not, for after a time he throws another log on the fire and rises and walks away, returning much later as I lie on my side watching the coals breathe white and red. He says nothing, and I have no words for him.”
The creatures of the world and the  magic isn’t your average kind:
A Fang is obviously a vampire.
A Breather I presume is an energy vampire.
And there are lycans and shapeshifters and the likes, how these creatures hunt, how they feed are some of the chilling and extraordinary parts of the book.

The magic is unique and different, there was this one bloodspell that Hitomi had to break, how she executes the task, how the spell finally falters is simply excellent. I also loved how a mage can feel the work of another mage, magic is something that is sensed and detected, and when someone breaks your guarding spell for instance it can wake you up jumping!

And as expected form Khanani again the dialogue is witty and engaging, not a word is wasted. Hitomi’s snarky exchanges with Lord Blackflame were quite funny.

Hitomi is also a stranger in strange land, because she’s from a different race (as her name suggests -and other indications- she is Asian to us) she was easily spotted and therefore a target for bullies. That is a part I can relate to, something I appreciate about this book.
By the way, there is no romance in Sunbolt, so whoever is jaded by fantasy or YA books filled with romance can rejoice at that.

The lows:

Yes the creatures are interesting but they were too many, is this a bad thing? Maybe not, but it just made a small book feel crowded. 
Also the pacing, it goes fast, a bit slow, fast again then it is as slow as it can get. The climax is far from the ending, many uneventful things take place after it and I felt it ended at an odd place, and with many questions left unanswered, not the ones about her past and heritage, these are the questions that keep you coming for more, but I’m talking about things like her unexplained relationship with the Ghost, so why exactly does he trust her? What did she do or show that made him treat her with such tenderness? What makes Hitomi so special?
I found this a bit annoying.

Also the language, she travels to a knew land and couldn’t understand what the people there were saying, then, suddenly everyone she meets is understandable to her, they all speak the language of Karolene, the explanation to this was unconvincing to me.
Also the villains were a tad disappointing.

What about Hitomi herself?

Well, it took me a while to like this girl but she grew up on me. This is also another quality to Intisar’s writing, it takes a while to sink in, for you to appreciate it, this means it stays with you way after you close the book.
Hitomi wasn’t the nicest young lady, I mean she’s a thief. But resourceful and brave? Oh yes, clever? Oh yes,yes! she can find her way out of any sort of imprisonment, not once but three times, I loved how she calculated all her moves, her small knowledge with magic proved very useful only because she knew how to make it so.
At one point she had that disturbing well to die for her friends, almost suicidal, it irritated me, but when the time came for her to die, well, let’s just say she wasn’t very welcoming, thank God for that.
And Hitomi is kind. She hate’s and even fears leaving anyone behind, friend or foe…what did Skeletor say to He-Man when he saved him from falling off a cliff?
“Fool He-Man! I wouldn’t do that if I were you”
I tell you if this makes heroes fools then Hitomi Rasheed Coldeye is the biggest fool.   
It’s a shame what happened to her at the end of the book, she deserves better, but let’s wait and see how it will be resolved in the next book “Memories of Ash” which I will  be reviewing also insha'Allah.

And there you have it :) I hope you enjoyed the review.



  1. Thanks so much for this review of Sunbolt, Haneen! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, even if a couple aspects didn't work so well for you. And oh my goodness, I love the He-Man and Skeletor reference! That took me back to my childhood. Too funny!

    1. It was an honor my friend, your writing deserves attention. Glad you liked the He-Man an Skeletor reference, that one always make me laugh :p

  2. So awesome that Intisar came over to read your review. I love it when writers interact with their fans. I'm ashamed to say I have a lot of catching up to do in my reading including Thorn. Haneen you gave a very good and honest review and as a book reviewer on my blog for a few years now, that is about the best thing you can do for a writer. Review honestly so they know what you think of their work.

    1. Coming from an avid reviewer I thank you very much for your complement.