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Sunstone Paperback – April 1, 2015
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Top Customer Reviews
by Holly Barbo
Reviewed by J Bryden Lloyd
Writing Style – 4.0/5.0 (Very Good)
Having read works by this author before, I was glad to see her familiar, smooth writing style has remained intact, but has developed a little in strength and structure.
Everything seems to fit together nicely and her eye for detail has remained exquisitely focused.
For the most part, the dialogue is precise and derives a strong link between the characters and the plot lines. However, I did feel that there were a lot of monologues which dragged the pace of the story back. Although these were key elements to the plot lines, this is a familiar trait with this particular writer and I felt that perhaps a little variety in the way information was gathered and distributed would have made some sections of the read a little less of a chore.
Nevertheless, extended dialogue aside, this was beautifully structured and styled.
Character Development – 3.5/5.0 (Good)
I felt a bit conflicted over the characters. They were a strong, likeable, diverse cast, with nice traits which defined them well within their good/evil parameters.
Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel that any of them really grew into someone I could be genuinely interested in.
It seemed as though, despite their obvious need to rely on each other, beyond the adopted father-son pairing and perhaps the man-servant, the other characters (even those relating directly to the key characters in the story) remained peculiarly distant, despite the plot suggesting they should be far closer.
As a result, there seems to be a lot of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’ where some characters are concerned, and although they are all likeable and very readable, this makes it equally hard to relate to a few of them in the way I am sure the author had intended.
Descriptive – 4.0/5.0 (Very Good)
The level of descriptive is brilliant in parts. People, places and events are vividly drawn and pull the reader into the story.
Some of the visuals are stunning, and occasional sketches are provided to introduce some of the mechanisms and elements of the story.
Within the sub-plots, most of the atmospheric writing and scene building is excellent, but I did feel there were occasions where the scenes were flat. Plenty was happening and the scene was by no means wasted, but detailing was either overdone or left you hanging slightly.
I have to say, however, there were elements where you could pick out the clever nuances of the plot. ‘The clinking of ice cubes’ in the drink of one character perhaps sealed the inevitable, but it was so well placed I almost overlooked it.
In a way, the central plot ‘idea’ involving the stones, feels a little disjointed from the wider story and is perhaps even over-simplified in the way the characters complete their task… with one remaining absent from the actual requisite deed.
Personally, I felt this took something away from the story, specifically with the relationship between the stone-bearers.
Language & Grammar – 4.0/5.0 (Very Good)
The use of language and word selection is of an exceptionally high standard. I did feel there was a little line editing needed, especially concerning comma usage and some other, very minor punctuation.
On the whole, though, this was a very good, very readable piece and it was clear how much work had gone into it.
Plot – 3.5/5.0 (Good) – MINOR SPOILERS
The premise of the story and the underlying sub-plots are excellent and definitely capable of keeping the reader both involved and intrigued as the story progresses, though I did find there were very grey areas between what I considered to be sub-plots and the main plot itself.
Unfortunately, I did find myself wondering WHY the gang were seeking the stones, and the reason for the tactics they employ. Although possible reasons are hinted at, it never seems obvious that there is any particular scheme or plan behind this, and equally, it seems less obvious what the bad guys expect or hope to gain from this action… especially as no-one seems to know what you have to do with the items once you have them.
This is probably the biggest of several niggles in the plot, but it doesn’t really make the story unreadable.
General – 3.5/5.0 (Good)
Although a very enjoyable read, this had a tendency to pull you toward a conclusion, then push you away just before you got there.
But whether or not this is one of those books which would benefit from another 10,000 words is debatable.
Yes, we are left with a few blanks in the plot, but the story itself is very good and it does conclude… even paving the way for further adventures with these characters further down the line.
Although the premise and plots are in place, Personally, I felt the sunstones themselves were very much underutilised within the story, and this frustrated enough to take the edge of a very good story.
In closing, I would highly commend the cover art. It really is superb. As far as the rating and recommendation…?
A very solid 3 and a half stars, edging toward 4… and a recommendation.