STARRED REVIEW
September 2016

A world without books

By Traci Chee
Review by
Sefia has lived a lonely and haunted life, pursued for years by the mysterious forces that brutally killed her father and still seek the enigmatic object—the “book”—that has been entrusted to Sefia for safekeeping. When Sefia’s aunt Nin, the only person who knows the truth about Sefia’s family, is kidnapped, Sefia develops several goals: “Learn what the book was for. Rescue Nin from the people who killed her father. And get her revenge.”
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Sefia has lived a lonely and haunted life, pursued for years by the mysterious forces that brutally killed her father and still seek the enigmatic object—the “book”—that has been entrusted to Sefia for safekeeping. When Sefia’s aunt Nin, the only person who knows the truth about Sefia’s family, is kidnapped, Sefia develops several goals: “Learn what the book was for. Rescue Nin from the people who killed her father. And get her revenge.”

Raised in a society where books and reading are unheard of, Sefia uses her mysterious book to teach herself to read—and by doing so, unlocks not only the power of story but also, possibly, her own marvelous abilities. Archer, a mute and damaged boy whose uncanny talents for fighting and killing may mark him as fulfilling a prophecy, aids Sefia along the way.

Traci Chee’s debut novel, set in a world full of secrets and power struggles, is a dense and rewarding opening to an exciting fantasy trilogy. “Look closer,” exhorts an inscription at the novel’s opening, and readers will feel inspired to look for hidden clues in this intricately and unconventionally structured fantasy novel.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Reader

The Reader

By Traci Chee
Putnam
ISBN 9780399176777

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