Esme’s Indie Higlights/SPFBO: Soulbound by Bethany Adams

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This book was part of Bookworm Blues grouping, and has since been eliminated – but it got the “most interesting world building” – the review http://www.bookwormblues.net/2017/07/05/spfbo-2017-round-one-mini-reviews/

This book will appeal to people who like elves, twists on fantasy tropes, romance, and world building.


 Plot:

Aryln’s mother has died, and her mother had a final request: find her father. Arlyn knew her whole life that magic was real, and that Earth was just one world of many, and that she was part elf. She had never met her father, he had left her mother years ago and never came back, it was a point of bitterness for her during her entire childhood.

She left and travelled through the mists that connect one world to another, and eventually found her fathers homeland.

Lyr didn’t know he had a daughter, he was only with Arlyns mother for a short time, and left because his father had been assassinated and he needed to find his killer. Time works differently between the worlds, and it’s difficult to travel from one plane to another, most mortal humans can’t make the journey without serious risks, which is why he was forced to leave his soulbound behind in the first place.

Much of the plot revolves around Arlyn learning who her family is, what the world is like, and immersing herself into a brand new culture of elves and fey.

There are assassins being sent after her family members, and we’re not sure why at first. It started with her grandfather, and it’s continuing on through the generations. There’s a lot of subterfuge and politics behind why there are assassins being sent, and it keeps the pace moving through what would be a slower burn character driven book without it.  Not that slow burn character driven is bad – but there are other things going on that keep it going faster.

Final Score: 7.5/10


Characters:

  • Arlyn – she’s a young woman who’s just lost her mother and been sent into an entirely new world, overall she copes well and it’s probably because her mother was open with her as a child about her being different about magic being a real thing. She’s a calmer more rational character, pretty understanding and empathetic as well, she was easy to like and relate to.
  • Lyr – her father is over 500 years old, and is a main player in the elf world. He’s royalty and could throw his weight around if he wanted to, but he’s pretty chill for an elf. He’s introspective and tries his best to make the right decisions. He’s haunted by the fact he never solved his fathers murder, and he’s absolutely devastated over the loss of Arlyns mother. Arlyns mother was his soulbound, which is something more than just wife or a lover, and he’s never forgotten how much he loved her, and never sought out other people after he left her behind.
  • Kai – another elf, and best friend to Lyr. He helps people cross the mists from one world to another, and is called a Guide. It’s a special power that some elves don’t have, not everyone can navigate through the strange landscape that connects the realms. He’s the love interest of Arlyn, and their romance takes up a lot of a plot – and even though I am *not* someone who usually enjoys romance in stories, this one I didn’t mind because it was unique from the start.

Final Score: 7.5/10


World Building:

  • Elves have extended life spans, there are some that are over a thousand years old. They can heal more quickly than people do, and are hard to kill – but iron is a serious problem for them. Most of them are “allergic” to it, and it’s deadly when used in weapons. It’s a big part of how the assassins are trying to take out Lyr’s house/family.
  • Guides can travel through the mists and escort people from one world to the next
  • There’s a TON of culture building going on, and it’d be too much and too complex to list, but reading about it was fascinating. I have a thing for old tropes reimagined and elves are a favorite of mine.
  • The elves world isn’t the only world outside of Earth, and the world of the fairies/fey is closer to Earth than the land of the elves. Their world is being poisoned, and they are blaming Earths pollution as the cause, even though Lyr finds that unlikely because the worlds don’t connect. The fey/fairies are dying and going insane, and slowly, one by one, other worlds are starting to get poisoned.
  • Being Soulbound is a big deal, it’s when two compatible souls resonate and can connect with each other. It’s very, very rare and some elves spend their entire lives trying to find their soulbound. Sex, marriage, and long term relationships are all separate from the idea of being soulbound, and it’s instantly recognizable.

Final Score: 8/10


Pacing/Prose/Tone:

It’s a slower book, it’s very character driven so if you need a ton of action in your books, maybe this one isn’t for you. However, if you enjoy family interactions, learning about new cultures, and enjoy a good romance you should give this one a try.

I listened to this one on audiobook, so I can’t say if there were any spelling errors, but the audiobook was lovely to listen to – the dialogue sounded normal and natural.

The tone was overall lighter, which was a nice change since I’ve read a bunch of darker books recently. This was a very fantastical kind of world and way of storytelling, it was def an escapism book for me.

Pacing Final Score: 6/10

Writing Final Score 8.5/10


Originality:

I’ve seen a lot of elf stuff before, but this was a unique culture. I’ve seen a lot of portal stuff before, but I’ve never had a book infer our pollution could contaminate other worlds. It was a mix of old and new and held my attention.

Final Score: 7/10


Audience:

  • For people who like character driven books
  • For people who like cultural world building
  • For people who enjoy old tropes reimagined with elves and fairies
  • For people who enjoy romance
  • For people who like multiple pov
  • For people who want non human pov
  • For people who like female pov
  • For people looking for sex positive culture

 

Total Final Score: 43.5/60 or 7.2/10 or 4 stars on goodreads

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