Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book Review: The Sapphire Flute by Karen E. Hoover

By Nichole Giles

The blurb:

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…and C’Tan will do whatever it takes to keep them from fulfilling their destiny.

My take:

When I first read this book, Karen Hoover hadn’t yet signed on the dotted line of her publishing contract. We’d swapped manuscripts, not for commenting, but because we were each curious about each other’s work. Because of this, and because I’ve known Karen for several years as we’re both members of some of the same writing groups, I’m going to here-by put forth my disclaimer: My relationship with this author or previous reading of this book have not colored my opinion of the quality of writing or story. There. Moving on.

Right away after receiving this manuscript, I felt myself pulled into the story to the point where I didn’t want to put it down—and it was on my computer. I ended up downloading a text to voice converter and loading it onto my iPhone so I could listen to it while I ran my kids around town and did yard work.

Here’s the problem. This story has everything. Magic, action, suspense, mystery, plot twists that have you dying to know what happens next and…one of my favorite elements, romance. Oh, and shape-shifters. Hence the reason I had to read and/or listen straight through.

I bought my copy of this book the day it launched, so excited to finally hold a bound copy in my hands. This is a must read!

There are a few areas where the plot slowed down for me, but I think those parts are sometimes necessary to give the reader a chance to breathe, and for the most part I found those scenes important to character, plot, or world development. The story is written very much in the style of the Harry Potter series, meaning Karen has started at the beginning and given us the back story first—which is totally okay in this book, because it moves fairly quickly—then continued to build the world in a way that young (and old) readers can understand what’s happening.

The point of view changes in about every chapter, moving back and forth between the two main characters and the antagonist, but while several other reviewers found that both distracting and confusing, it didn’t really bother me. Probably because I’m a fantasy reader, and that’s not an uncommon occurrence in this genre. I will warn you that there are lots of oddly named supporting characters, which are somewhat difficult to remember from scene to scene, but I suspect that as the series progresses, we’ll come to know much more about these characters and that will no longer be an issue. As I recall, it wasn’t until the third Harry Potter book that I actually remembered the name of that stupid cat that roams the halls in Hogwarts.

My nitpicks:

While the cover is beautiful and well done, it appears to be created for a younger audience rather than the young adult one for which the story is written. It’s bright and eye-catching, but nothing like books in the same genre. I hope this turns out to be a good thing for sales, and not a turn-off for readers of the correct age group, because it really is a story worth reading.

To purchase your copy of The Sapphire Flute click here.

To learn more about the author, visit her blog, or the Valor Publishing Group website.

**Dear FTC: Unlike many other reviewers for this book, I did NOT receive a free advance copy, or any other copy of this book for reviewing. Actually, I went to Barnes and Noble the day it was released and stood in line along with lots of other people in order to buy my copy and have it signed by the author.

Don’t forget to click here and enter my fabulous contest.


Jenn Johansson said...

Cool! I'm excited to read it! I was happy to see you at the launch party. :)

Carolyn V. said...

Great review! I plan on reading it this summer. =)

CL Beck, author: MormonMishaps said...

Nice review. Thanks for posting it!

L.T. Elliot said...

Great review, Nichole! And don't worry, I always know you give honest reviews. =]

Karen Hoover said...

Thank you, Nichole! It was an awesome review. :)