Monday, February 18, 2019

Stonebearer’s Betrayal - Jodi L. Milner

Summary: A secret society of immortals, tasked to protect the world. A demon bent on revenge. A girl brave enough to fight for her family when the two collide. Archdemoness Wrothe stirs the ashes from a long dead war, rekindling a fire that threatens to burn the world. Only the legendary Stonebearers of the Khandashii have the power to stop her, if they catch wind of her plans in time. Katira didn’t believe the legends. She didn’t believe a person could alter the fabric of reality or live forever. She didn’t believe in the dark mirror realm or in the dangerous creatures prowling there either. That was before the first shadow hound came for her. (Summary and Image from I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.) 

 Review: Katira is the daughter of a blacksmith and a healer, nearly betrothed to her best friend and love, and happy in the secure, small village where she’s spent her life. While her parents have never made any secret about her parentage (orphaned by fire and adopted by her rescuers), she is happy. Sure, the myths of magic and “wielders” are fun stories designed to spook and scare, but they can’t be real.

 First time novelist, Jodi Milner, has crafted a high fantasy novel that is relatable and immersive, even for non-fantasy readers. I’ve always been wary of high fantasy (I prefer fantasy lite) because of the new rules and the names and the different magics — it’s overwhelming. However, I was much more than pleasantly surprised to find that Milner’s novel is so organic, so well-crafted that these qualms were wholly unfounded. The rules were parsed out as the reader needed to, avoiding the common pitfall of talking down to the reader or condescending to them in their explanations. It was easy to pick the novel right back up and slide into Katira’s world after a pause.

 As for the story, it is well done. Amazingly so. While there are a few passages that made me feel like I’d skipped a paragraph, they are rare. In the last few years, I’ve noticed a trend among novels - it’s as though the storyline is the same, just the background and the scenery change. It was a breath of fresh air to read a book where the main character isn’t the “destined one” or the “only one to cure the evil”. Katira is brave, she’s resourceful, but she’s also scared and unsure and untrained. She’s naive, but she has a good heart.  While the novel is set up for a series, and our main character could easily develop into the most powerful of all, she isn’t there yet. She’s nowhere close. It’s wonderful. It’s also nice to see the development of multiple characters, instead of just the one. While we are each the main character in our own stories, there’s never just one story being told. I feel like Milner embodies that.

 Milner has created a character who I want to see develop. I want to see her growth, I want to see her succeed, I want to see her choices. Instead of a one-off novel a reader would read once and forget, we have been given a novel who invites the reader into a developing and expanding universe ripe with potential. As a non-fantasy reader, I can’t wait for the next book to appear.

Rating: Four and a half stars

 For the Sensitive Reader: This is a solid PG book. There is some violence, some talk of yearning, but nothing I’d deem inappropriate.

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