Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Sunbolt" by Intisar Khanani

So I told you all that I went out and bought Intisar Khanani's second book right after finishing Thorn.  Well, I read it over Spring Break, and it was totally worth it!  Seriously, you guys, I LOVED the main character Hitomi in Sunbolt more than I've loved an MC in a long time.  She was super scrappy, vulnerable, clever, big-hearted, and streetwise while maintaining an endearing innocence at the same time.

Before I get carried away, here's the synopsis:

 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.

So, Khanani's world building and magic systems are some of the most intriguing I've had the pleasure of coming across.  She has such a unique perspective as a storyteller, and her writing . . . it is just . . . solid.  Really, and, the voice of her protagonist is so likable and logical.  The things Hitomi does just make sense for her character.  I know that sounds weird, but one of the biggest things that bothers me about books is when the characters aren't true to who they are.  

Now, just a head's up, Sunbolt is the first book in a series and more the length of a novella.  I didn't realize that, so when it ended much sooner than I expected, I was like What!? NO!!!! This wasn't because the story wasn't satisfying in the length that it was, but because it was so compelling. I loved the Ghost, the Shadow League, Val, and Kenta.  The first half of the book had a very The Scarlet Pimpernel meets Arabian Nights feel to it.  And I loved the way Khanani took common myth and made it her own to fit surprisingly well in her world.

Another amazing thing Intisar Khanani has going for her--and this was the same with Thorn--is that from the very first page, she's able to take hold of me, and her story doesn't let me go until it's over. I had a little exchange with her over twitter after reading Thorn, and apparently she's rewritten her beginning chapters more times than most authors.  Well, it's working out for her, because once that first chapter grabs me and even when I'm not reading, I'm still thinking about her story. As a writer, I've been trying to pinpoint what she's doing right to make that happen, but I'm thinking its a combination of a lot of really great things.  

Anyway, this book is going on my Great Reads list, so you should definitely check it out.  I can't wait until book 2 in the Sunbolt Chronicles comes out later this year!


  1. Yay! I am so honored (and excited) that you enjoyed Sunbolt so much. Hitomi has been one of my favorite characters to write specifically because of the fun, quirky mix of traits she has. Though that can also make her a little bit of a challenge to write. :) And, while I'd planned this series as a novella serial, it's looking like Book 2 is going to be a full-length novel. Hopefully that will make it worth the wait! Thanks so much for this wonderful review.

    1. It was my pleasure, Intisar! Every once in a while I come across a book that makes me really want to make friends with the author. Reading Sunbolt, and especially Hitomi's character, totally had that effect on me. ;-) She's awesome! And can I just say, I am excessively pumped to read "Memories of Ash!"