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Great concept but...
on November 7, 2011
Shatter, a self-published young adult fantasy novel, starts off slow and never really gets going. The characters, plot, and world have plenty of potential, but a good restructuring and major editing overhaul would have done this book wonders.
Faela Durante is on the run from her husband, the father of her infant son, Sammi. She's racked with guilt - guilt for events that won't be revealed to the reader until the middle and end of the book. She uses her red magic to defend herself, and to heal herself as well. As she runs from her past, however, she collects a rag-tag band of other magic users. There's Jair, the extremely powerful and untraind green magic user. He's gangly and charming, always good for a laugh. But he's running from his past as well. Then there's Kade, the powerful and deadly orange and purple Daniyelan. His sword burns with orange and black flame when he needs to defend himself or his comrades, and he has the unique ability to "pop" backwards through time and space. He's running as well, having been accused of murdering his young wife, and of being a traitor to his order.
But when the trio bumps into Mireya, an oracle of the blue Nikelan order, and her grier (protector) Dathien, the group realizes that their joining of forces wasn't random. They are all part of a prophecy:
Seven shall come to undo what was done.
From shadow revealed, three destinies sealed.
Daughter of night shall succumb to dark sight.
He who walks time out of fire must climb.
Son of the earth shall steal from its birth.
Speaker of truth, guide you must be, trust in that which only you see.
Keeper of truth, watch and protect, never dismiss all you suspect.
Twin branches extend, a choice here resolved,
Either shall end betrayed or absolved.
From death shall be life; a world formed anew.
The rest of the members of the prophecy slowly join the story. It's hard to keep track of so many characters and their backstories. They all have intricate relationships, some stretching back decades. And when the side characters start to pop up, some of which are family members or former friends and mentors to multiple people within it, it gets even worse.
It's the same with the setting. All the magic users specialzie in different colors (Red is healing, Orange is Justice, Yellow is art, Green is growing, Blue is prophecy, and Purple is popping). And all magic users train at different houses around the contintent. All of which have different Scions, or heads of the magical houses. You have to keep all of these straight, because the Scions become very important towards the end of the book.
And the dialog...towards the end it feels like the author just ripped off every corny relationship conversation ever. It's so cheesy and fake sounding that I almost put the book down. But I only had 5o pages or so left, so I toiled onward. For example, in this passage, Faela explains to Kade her failure at friendship: "I don't have many myself. Pretty much just Ianos, Caleb, and Talise. And Caleb and Talise are family. You've got me beat there. You sure you want a friend like me, Kade?"
I'm not saying that Shatter by Elizabeth C. Mock is a bad book. As far as indie fantasy books go, it's around the middle of the pack for me (better than Bone Dressing but not nearly as good as the Trylle trilogy). You just need a spreadsheet to keep track of the cast of characters, their magic specialities, their relationships, and their origins. Keeping track of everything made reading this book tedious.