I have finished reading Auralia’s Colors, and I must say, I am impressed.
So, click the “Read More” button below, and read my full review of the book, including the following sections:
- Basic Plot
- The Author
- Who Will Like This Book
- World Building
- One Annoying Thing
- Christian Content
- The Bad Guy?
- Science Fiction?
- Powerful High Point
- Overall Opinion
From the back of the book: When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.
Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling—and forbidden—talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.
Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.
Auralia’s Colors weaves classic fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.
Again, from the back of the book: Jeffrey Overstreet lives in Shoreline, Washington. He is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response, posts perspectives on art and entertainment at LookingCloser.org, and his reviews are published in Christianity Today and Paste. His movie-going adventures are chronicled in his book, Through a Screen Darkly.
Who Will Like This Book
This book will appeal to readers who like fantasy OR science fiction. The reason I say OR is that there is a slight hint of science fiction in the book which almost reminds me of a cross between Frank Herbert’s Dune and the Borg in Star Trek. There are no space ships or things of that sort, and so in that sense it is strictly in the Fantasy category, but the feel of Science Fiction is there.
(I’ll have a little more about the science fiction aspects of the book below.)
As far as the age recommendation, I would have to say that the book should be read by adults, or by very mature teens with adult supervision. The reason for this is that there are some hints of adult situations, so don’t blindly give this to younger readers without reading it yourself.
This is important to understand, because if you quickly look at the book, it could mistakenly appear to be for younger readers since the two main characters (Auralia and the Ale Boy) are young. Let me put it this way … a little bit of editing would have made it have an even broader age range.
I would say that men and women will like this book. As a guy, I was skeptical at first since the main character is a young woman, and it took me awhile to get into it, but the emerging of Prince Cal-raven and the Ale Boy helped a lot and I will be looking out for the right time to read Cyndere’s Midnight, the second book in the series, which is available for pre-order right now.
One of the areas I am impressed with is Jeffrey Overstreet’s world building. He creates a small yet believable world with four kingdoms. In this sense, Jeffrey’s world reminds me a lot of L.B. Graham’s world in his Binding Of The Blade Series, although the details differ completely.
One of the things I like about the world in this book are the names that things are called. The creatures are both familiar and alien, and everything has a name that fits it. It’s not just a bear, it is a FangBear. It is not just a spider, its a PlumSpider. It is not just a badger, it is a YellowBadger.
At first it took a bit of getting used to this way of naming things, but soon I entered into the world of the Expanse, and found it natural, even believable. Another advantage of this method of naming things is that it allowed characters to talk about something by name, and you could immediately imagine the creature without having to have anyone describe it. This made the text more natural, yet allowed my imagination to fly with the “other”-ness of the landscape.
One Annoying Thing
There was only one thing that bothered me as I read the book, and it was minor. This was how the author handled flashbacks. Now, in writing, a flashback can be very useful to give the reader information that would not normally fit into the small time-frame of the story, and Jeffrey, in this debut novel, needed some flashbacks to cover the past so that you could understand the present.
So what was my problem? It was that he had a flashback inside of a flashback inside of a flashback. Yes, that’s right. Although I was able to follow it, it was very confusing and I had to keep track of how many layers deep I was in. Now it is possible that I am mistaken on the three-level-ness of the flashback (maybe it was only two), but if I am wrong, then that only shows how confusing the section was.
Yes, this could have been written differently, but the way he wrote it was probably the most concise way to do it, and got it over with quickly, like an old bandage. However, I don’t recommend anyone copying this technique … you might need a boy scout to untie the knot your fingers get into from typing it.
One of the most difficult areas for a Christian fiction writer is how to include God into the story. This was deftly handled by Mr. Overstreet so that this book would be an excellent gift to give to non-Christians, as it might make them think about deeper issues and about the existence of God, who is called the Keeper in the books. The question of whether to believe or not believe in the Keeper is one of the excellent themes of the books.
The Bad Guy?
One of the strange things about the book was that as I read it I was surprised that no “bad guy” showed up in the main part of the story. What? No BAD GUY? How can you have a story without a bad guy? In my own book, I have (a) an enemy who is a puppet of (b) an adversary, who was ultimately sent by (c) the biggest evil of all (Satan). Now only (a) is really visible in the first book, but the fact remains that I do have a visible, evil, menacing bad guy throughout the text. He is even introduced in the first chapter (not the Prologue).
So how can Jeffrey Overstreet write a book without a clear villain? Good question. You need to think of this book as more of a journey of the soul for the main characters, the King, the Queen, his prince, and the people of Abascar. They struggle with their sins and the results of their bad decisions. They are fighting their inner-demons, and in this sense, Jeffrey is echoing modern society and the evils that plague us from within.
But he doesn’t leave us without hope, and in that sense, this is a hopeful story about the ailments of a nation and how it could be healed, if only it would turn to the Keeper. In this sense, Auralia is like Jeremiah. And yes, there is a remnant.
Despite this apparant lack, the book has plenty of action. Still, be prepared for a thinking sort of book that makes you question your own ability to see clearly amidst the blinding influence of our own culture. In this sense it is a literary sort of fantasy.
But … for those evil-nasty-villain haters who love to see the bad guy appear to win and then be thwarted … look out because Jeffrey will satisfy your appetites with all colors flying. Just keep reading … the epilogue will get you! Oh will it get you!
One other “science fiction” thing that struck me is a similarity (not just to Dune or Star Trek), but to Star Wars. Yes, Star Wars. Prince Cal-Raven is kind of like Luke Skywalker, and Scharr ben Fray is kind of like Obi-Won-Kenobi, who disciples him. So where is Darth Vader? Well, he’s kind of missing, but if you think about it, King Cal-Marcus isn’t too far off. But then again, just wait for the Chieftain…
Powerful High Point
The high point of the book was VERY moving. I almost cried about Radegan’s pillow, and that wasn’t even the top of the mountain. A lot of suspense. A lot of twists and turns. Only then did I understand who the NorthChildren were, but you’ll have to read it yourself. I don’t know if I fully believed Stricia’s motivations (to do what she did), but that was a minor complaint.
I give this book a four out of five. The lack of a clear villain to focus on was the only minus, but I would wager that the second book will be even better (hint hint).
Don’t shy away from this book, as it is an excellent read and you won’t regret your decision to buy it. The writing is fresh, eye-opening. Read it, and you will be inspired.
And be sure to read part 2 of my review in “Auralia’s Colors – Of Villains & Beastmen“.