My Loft of the Cabin where I store all my virtual reads, reviews and discover new adventures and share new stories!
Years in the making, this book was first published back in 2009 and the author has republished it with a brand new cover and editing.
First off, I really enjoyed the book, the alternative history in New Zealand and the idea of the Awakened. Philippa Ballantine is a highly talented and popular author. When I started reading this I was excited with the idea of reading a book set in New Zealand having read a handful of books involving the relationships between Māori and the European settlers.
This was another book about relationships in the population of New Zealanders, the first generation (First-Born), the native population (Māori) and others, Seraphim, but what makes this different is this is a magical fantasy instead of a historical fiction. And like her other books, Ms. Ballantine develops a very believable world with rich characters you care deeply about.
Based in post-WW1 New Zealand the book starts off with what appears to be a serial killer, but what it turns out to be is something all together different.In Ballentine's New Zealand, each child, mainly first-born,, has a chance of becoming Awakened; bonded with a Seraphim. It is a bond formed out of pain & trauma. When one becomes an Awakened one also must learn to not only live with a constant companion but also not lose themselves in the magic which comes with their Seraphim, doing so will be risking madness.
The typical conventions and story devices are here for telling a tale of good and bad, of a society struggling to rebuild after the war, as is necessary for a post war historical, but with the added fantasy and magical tropes mired in it we get a new angle to enjoy the stories being told.
This is not a light fantasy read, this is disturbing and even with the beauty of Faith, she is a light in the midst of the dirty post-war landscape. The edition of a asylum in the darkest form it can be, the unseen killer and the complete unknown with the "other" adds to create this darkness. Though I guarantee you will feel a bit weepy at the end, for both good and bad outcomes. Again Ballantine truly has a gift to balance each.
My only criticisms is it took way to long for us to get more then a sliver of the possibilities of the "other" .. the evil and of all the unresolved aspects of the story. When it takes till 92% for me to go, "WHAT, now you tell me?" I mean it was not like a surprise is needed. Nor was a complete explanation. I get why it was done, but I think it could possibly be fed or trickled to us a bit more before this point. Lily is a pivotal point of the plot and to have it start with her and end with her is important, but to have it not begin her ending sooner caused my frustration. On that note, the outcome for Faith and Hoa was well played. (go read the book and find out ;) ) The other is despite the balance of the story, some of the chapters either rushed to get somewhere causing me to flip back to see what I missed or took forever to get there. Not enough to take me out of the read but enough for it to not be a complete five star for me.
I hope there is more in this world, I want to find out just what is going to come next!