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Auralia's Colors (The Auralia Thread Series #1) Paperback – September 4, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. The kingdom of Abascar is cloaked in gloom, sentenced to an ongoing wintering by a jealous queen, in which colors have been done away with and are only allowed in the royal court. But young Auralia, found as a baby by the river and raised by outcasts, has a talent for finding colors everywhere and bringing them to life in a way no one has ever seen before. The fate of the kingdom rests on what Auralia chooses to do and how the king responds. Overstreet creates a world with not only its own geography but its own vocabulary—it is haunted by beastmen, home to cloudgrasper trees, vawns (something like dinosaurs) and twister fish. There are Christian bones to the story—particularly in the mystery of the beast called the Keeper, who is always moving about, but he likes to hide just to see who'll come seeking—which may be too obvious to some and not at all clear to others. Overstreet's writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment. (Sept.)
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Publishers Weekly (Review, 7/16)
Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. The kingdom of Abascar is cloaked in gloom, sentenced to an ongoing “wintering” by a jealous queen, in which colors have been done away with and are only allowed in the royal court. But young Auralia, found as a baby by the river and raised by outcasts, has a talent for finding colors everywhere and bringing them to life in a way no one has ever seen before. The fate of the kingdom rests on what Auralia chooses to do and how the king responds. Overstreet creates a world with not only its own geography but its own vocabulary — it is haunted by beastmen, home to cloudgrasper trees, vawns (something like dinosaurs) and twister fish. ... Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment.
“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”
–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of Noor and Dragon's Keep
“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”
–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The Curse of the Raven Mocker
“In Auralia’s Colors, Overstreet masterfully extends the borders of imagination. Whereas so many writers sacrifice characterization for plot or substitute weirdness for substance, Overstreet does neither. His characters are richly crafted but still recognizably human, and therefore, inhabitable. This story is wild and intricate tale, a high-octane full-throttle fantasy. Fasten your seat belts.”
–Gina Ochsner, author of The Necessary Grace to Fall and People I Wanted to Be
“The late John Gardner said that a good story should unfold like a vivid and continuous dream. With Auralia's Colors, Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted just such a story, one that will leave readers ready to dream with him again.”
–John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture
“Jeffrey Overstreet weaves myth and reality, hope and loss into his tapestry, and he ties off The Red Strand with a cataclysmic flourish.”
–Kathy Tyers, author of the Firebird trilogy and Shivering World
“Welcome to the land of the fangbear, the muckmoth, and the Midnight Swindler. To a story brimming with lovely literary rewards and a cast of characters by turn loathsome and hilarious, winsome and mysterious. It’s not often one gets to be present at the birth of a classic, but Auralia’s Colors is that kind of storytelling. A true delight on so many levels.”
–Clint Kelly, author of the Sensations Series: Scent, Echo, and Delicacy
“In this new fantasy novel Auralia’s Colors, Jeff Overstreet weaves together a wide cast of compelling characters and an intriguing story in the setting of a world both imaginative and arresting–a world phantastic in both old and new meanings of that word. Readers will care what happens both to the characters of the tale (all of them) as well as to the realm of Abascar itself, and will not want to put this book down.”
–Matthew Dickerson, co-author of From Homer to Harry Potter: a Handbook of Myth and Fantasy and Ents, Elves, and Eriador: the Environmental Vision of J.R.R.Tolkien
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Top Customer Reviews
Character Development: (Cricket, Cricket) Now let me qualify this by saying that character development doesn't always seem happen in real life, so it doesn't necessarily have to happen in a novel. Also, I am probably exaggerating to say it didn't happen at all. I could definitely see some changes in the Ale Boy (Yep, that's right "Ale Boy" the whole time); he was arguably the character I sympathized with the most. Although he develops some disturbingly macabre materialism near the end. I thought Cal-Raven could've been developed more; he was non-stereotypical and that was his whole character. He didn’t seem to have very many deep relationships except with his father and guardsman. Auralia was the protagonist and she was definitely interesting; however, I couldn't engage with her enough to truly care except in the distant manner in which we desire a happy ending for a story. Stricia had a sort of psychotic appeal for the offbeat reader.
The Keeper: He is not a character in the strictest sense, but for me this was the place that the author’s Christian background came into play. The creature seems to be a cross between Behemoth (Job 40:15-24) and Leviathan (Job 41). In fact, Behemoth is referenced by name in the book while Leviathan is referenced by description. The Keeper has glistened scales (Leviathan), strong (Behemoth) tail, lives under water, has eyes that reflect the color of sunrise (Leviathan). Here’s the thing, however, Leviathan is a loner creature described by God when God is telling Job about how small mankind is in the scheme of things. Neither Leviathan nor Behemoth are God. In this same vein, I cannot imagine the Keeper as God…especially since the Keeper is a dark shadow in the night. In all honesty, I don’t think that’s what the author meant, (at least I hope not) but he left enough (ahem) loose threads that people could draw this conclusion.
Relationships: Dysfunctional with a capital "D". Which isn't necessarily a fault; it creates tension, keeps readers interested. However, some distracted from the story. For instance, the whole Radegan romance was pretty pointless and felt a bit sordid (I know it was on purpose, but it didn’t seem to have any purpose). I did like the fact that sibling/non-romantic relationships got to ride shotgun for a change-very Jane Austen. The author could’ve have easily threw in the teen classic romance triangle, but didn't (thank you!). It was a different kind of love and it worked.
Story Arc: Have you ever been on a bus and suddenly looked up to realize you had no idea where you were? Yeah, that feeling. I couldn’t find a legitimate reason for this story to exist, except to be a highly literized (if the author can invent words so can I) version of Pleasantville-color revolution/ people want to do bad things etc.
Language: Extraordinary. I would say it’s one of the main things that kept me going. I wanted to know what this author would say next. I felt like I was drinking words. "Lyrical fantasy" applies here.
Message: The author draws heavily on themes of unordinary beauty and the power of choice. However, he looses me with some of the dark undertones, extraneous magic that adds nothing and weird side bits (like grasshopper wings and blood woven into a cloak).
Overall: Good use of language, dark sense of taste and a world that will hold your interest although you may wish it hadn't.
Auralia's Colors is a fantasy novel starring a quirky and energetic young girl whose fascination and surprising abilities with colors gets her in trouble. The people of the world are divided between `houses', large cities walled in and sometimes at war with each other. House Abascar has governed the use of colors in clothing and other items, clothing the common people in gray and brown and using colors such as blue, red, yellow, gold, and green as indications of rank. Auralia was found as a baby, abandoned in a giant footprint by a river, by members of the Gatherers, people thrown out of Abascar for crimes ranging from wearing a red hat to thieving. The Gatherers work their way back into the House by showing their willingness to serve and gathering food and other goods from the dangerous lands outside the walls. Orphans like Auralia, raised by the Gatherers, are brought into Abascar at age sixteen to be taught the ways of the society. But Auralia doesn't want to be shut up behind the walls. She is most happy in the forest where she lives, taming wild beasts and creating wondrous things with her forbidden colors. Until things change and she makes a choice to try to help the people...
I think this quote from the book best sums up the main theme: 'Hear this: if you allow Abascar freedom, some people will choose what they shouldn't. But take away that freedom, and no one has opportunity to choose what they should.'
There is no villain but the evil in many of the characters, fighting against the good in them. It very realistically blurs the lines of good and evil, showing how greed can turn good actions sour, how the fight between good and evil goes on in every person's heart and mind.
This is Overstreet's first (published) novel, and it shows in parts. It sometimes rambles a bit, or gets a little confusing, but this is more than made up for by the good qualities of the story. Overall the writing is fantastic. Very original descriptions and turns of phrase give the story a flavor I've never encountered before. It is consistently filled with phrases such as this: 'The forest went on dreaming while Auralia folded her thoughts and set them aside. She sat on the cliff edge, swinging her feet into space as if she might find a foothold and walk away on the air.'
The book is comparable to Inkheart for its terrific prose, perhaps even better, and the characters, Auralia especially, are more colorful (pun intended.) I loved Auralia from the first moment I saw her, and it seemed I just couldn't get enough of her character. I would have been happy to read fifty straight pages just about her escapades in the forest. When Auralia was in danger, I felt the strongest emotions ever caused by a book. The story is highly original and addicting. After finishing it, I spent at least half an hour letting it sink in, while my eyes insisted on leaking tears down my face.
My rating is five stars out of five. Definitely one of my favorite fantasy books ever.