Maria V. Snyder
A-freaking-mazing! Snyder must be completely immune to the sophomore slump. Magic study is of the exact same quality as poison study and it is of the highest caliber. I was looking for a story to enthrall me. I didn’t realize that I had found one that would do so as thoroughly as this one. At the end of the fourth paragraph Snyder had me.
Yelena is in Sitia in this book and the story hooks into you immediately. You see, it begins in a jungle, a jungle which just happens to be the home of Yelena’s family. You guys, they live in trees. Because of course. The girl who escaped capture by covering so much distance climbing through trees. Of course her family lives in trees. Yelena meets her mother, father, and brother straight off. Though she is welcomed home with open arms by her mother and her father, her brother immediately distrusts and hates her. He thinks she’s a spy.
The Sitian characters Snyder crafted are as equally compelling as the Ixian characters of the first book. Snyder does a mind numbing job of making characters into people, but she does it to the exact right degree. There’s no over-share, but all of the characters were fully fleshed out. Her mother immediately becomes the worrying mother who’s made human by the fact that she hides in a tree if Yelena is in danger. It makes sense that a mother whose daughter was kidnapped would hide if they were returned and then immediately placed in danger again. Leif, her brother, he hates Yelena, but in the end the hatred makes sense. Snyder shows a stunning knowledge of human psychology.
It’s completely impossible to pick out a favorite character in this book because there were so many I love. The two horses, Kiki and Topaz, are at the top of my list, but then so are Yelena, Valek, Ari, Janco, Moon Man, and Dax. Moon Man and Dax always made me smile whenever they entered the stage. Actually, pretty much all of those characters made me smile.
The one thing I am truly jealous of that Snyder does flawlessly is her ability to build a place in a way that doesn’t frustrate the reader with a ton of description. She somehow manages to show you exactly what she’s seeing in her mind’s eye without bogging down the story. For example, I don’t think she ever pauses to say “this is what Sitia is like”, but I found the map at the beginning of the story to be extraneous because I already had it in my mind. I knew the people and their culture. I could see the glaring white marble of the Citadel and the tan, blue, and brown grasses of the Avibian Plans blowing in the breeze. She created those pictures for me in a way that way that I can only term exceedingly pleasant.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It doesn’t matter what genre you prefer. If you like a good story, this will blow your proverbial socks off. Snyder earns 5 inks bottles. If I had more, she would absolutely deserve them.