Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles #1)" by Intisar Khanani

It's kind of unusual that I don't review a book I read while actively blogging, but that's what happened to another book by this author that I read first, Thorn. Sometimes you do everything right to review a book (highlight, take notes about what you'll cover) but you nonetheless draw a blank when staring down a review draft, and that was the case with Thorn. I mention this because Thorn was the reason I bothered to pick up another of this author's books, despite having a massive book hoard/TBR full of every kind of book already. Fair warning: I do compare this book against Thorn despite not having completed a review for it.

It's much easier to like Hitomi than the protagonist of Thorn, who had more growing to do before she came into her own. Despite her lack of parents, Hitomi seems fluent in the language of survival, with a little help from her friends. The start of the book is gripping because it springs from an action scene, which spurs the pace of the story, despite it being a relatively short book.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
'When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.'

You don't get more than a glimpse at the possible central plot to the series with this book, but there are plenty of progression points (and action) to keep this book from feeling unfocused. Hitomi joins forces with Ghost (a disguised vigilante) to aid the rebellion against Blackflame, even though it means likely drawing more attention her way- attention she doesn't need, as she's already seen as a foreigner in Karolene.

Although this book is short in page count, it covers a large swathe of story. Unique twists on paranormal staples like vampires and werewolves help define it as different from the rest, despite a relatively staid plotline. I did begin to notice some commonalities with some of Robin McKinley's books near the end, but it read more like an homage than a detraction. I likely wouldn't have noticed it as much, had I not read an interview with the author noting McKinley as one of her favorites.

A favorite quote:
I know it the moment I wake, an almost physical awareness, as if the air I breathe has lost its moisture, or a color had disappeared overnight so that, on waking, I find a world without amber or topaz, or amethyst.
            ~Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani, page 129 Kindle edition

Sunbolt is an excellent young adult fantasy I wish I had around when I was young. Not only is it a diverse fantasy book (a rarity in YA ten years ago... or even now), it also proves a quick read can also have a great deal of story to it. If you're in the mood for a unique fantasy read that won't take you very long to read, Sunbolt might be your next book.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for a magically short YA fantasy!

Content: Ages 14+ for violence, adventure, and trapped souls.

Page Count: 142 pages


  1. I have heard good things about this one, and am glad you liked it. I have a copy of Thorn on my Kindle, but haven't yet read it. I need to read more fantasy. Its a genre I love and yet I don't read it as much as I would like.

    1. Oh, I really enjoyed Thorn! I just kept trying to come up with a review for it and faltered, but that was during my February reading spree, if I recall correctly. I like that this author makes the genre more accessible by writing short, but moving books- it seems too often you have to read 500+ pages just to escape into a good fantasy these days.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Wendy- hope you enjoy Thorn, whenever you read it!
      ~Litha Nelle

  2. I love that quote! It is the perfect example of why I love her writing. I liked Thorn a squeech better. Having read Thorn so long ago, I cannot tell you why, but I came away with a deep sigh feeling with that story. It may have been only because it was longer; I don't know. My one criticism is I wish that Sunbolt was made a bit longer and maybe have the triligy be a duology instead. I didn't look to see how many pages Memories Of Ash is. Is it another novella length? Great review. And I have no idea who McKinley is, I forgot to look it up after the cover reveal. I will do it now before I forget. :)

    1. I find it so hard to describe writing styles with my own words, so I usually let the author's words speak for them.
      Thorn was a more resolved story, but I really can't tell you if I liked it much more or not- my memory's been playing tricks on me lately. Unless I've read a full series, it's hard to tell if it should've been made in more or less books, but like you, I tend to err on the side of fewer books (but longer ones). Robin McKinley penned my childhood favorite Damar series (both books can be read as standalones, but they are related) with The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. She also wrote Sunshine (which I read later, as it's meant to be) an urban fantasy with vampires and magic. You see a lot of Sunshine in this book, but as I said- it's an homage, and Sunbolt is different from it.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, La La!
      ~Litha Nelle


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