Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

Title: A Book of Spirits and Thieves
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Spirits and Thieves, Book One
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: 23 June 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

Modern-day sisters discover deadly ancient magic in book 1 of this Falling Kingdoms spin-off series!

Worlds collide in this suspenseful, page-turning Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, which explores a whole new side of Mytica—and an even darker version of its magic.

Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her mother’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.

Maddox Corso, Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.

Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspear Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself….

Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart.
(summary from Goodreads)

A good start to this fantasy series, though lacking some thrills.

I have yet to read Falling Kingdoms and I wonder if I should have before picking up A Book of Spirits and Thieves. Apparently as a spin off to that series, A Book of Spirits and Thieves can be read alone. Certainly there didn't seem to be anything too major to the story that relied on previous knowledge of Falling Kingdoms. However, Mytica did feel a little underdeveloped. Rhodes paints a picture of this world well enough but there is this sense of history that hasn't been explained in depth. But in saying that, for me, it felt like something more was missing from A Book of Spirits and Thieves. Ah, that intangible something. I plan to read Falling Kingdoms to see if anything changes on that front, but I think maybe what was missing is simply connection. I enjoyed Rhodes's story and characters but I never felt truly invested in the journey. There's so many interesting little tidbits to this book. Magic, other worlds, mind control, goddesses - the story is engaging and makes for a quick read, but it just felt too easy. At times the dialogue feels forced, the twists anticlimactic, and the resolutions too quick. The obstacles and struggles of the story didn't ring true. Everything that could have been 'wow' kind of fell flat. A Book of Spirits and Thieves is never boring, and overall I liked it, but I didn't end it desperate for more. 

If I do continue reading this series, I think it'll rely on Rhodes's characters. I'm not completely besotted by them, but I get the feeling that could change as their stories continue. A Book of Spirits and Thieves is narrated by Crys, whose sister Becca finds herself stuck in another world; a boy from Mytica, Maddox; and rich playboy, Farrell, member of the secret society, Hawkspear. I liked Maddox and Becca best. Mytica intrigues me, so I enjoyed their adventures in this other world that bit more. The truths of both their identities are going to play huge parts in upcoming books and I'd be eager to read where Rhodes takes them. I liked Crys well enough too, but her narration often felt the most contrived. Emotionally, Crys's chapters were too stilted. As for Farrell, well, he's a bit of a douche. Rhodes is certainly offering a monster of an excuse for that, but so far it didn't work out so well. He may not be evil, but I'm not convinced he isn't really just a douche at heart. But Farrell's family relationships appeal to me, especially those between him and his brothers, Adam and Connor. I ended A Book of Spirits and Thieves at least fascinated to read what part Adam will play in the future and to find out the truth about Connor - though it seems pretty clear right now, but who knows? I think another problem with this book is its villains. Valoria, of Mytica, and Marcus, the big bad of the modern day Toronto story line and leader of Hawkspear, have very stereotypically villainous moments but I wasn't overly impressed. With Valoria especially I felt like I was missing pertinent information and again that makes me think I should read Falling Kingdoms. A Book of Spirits and Thieves is just the beginning though, so maybe Rhodes will flesh out her villains better as the series continues. 

A Book of Spirits and Thieves is an entertaining read to while away some time but it isn't stand out.



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