The Buried Symbol by Jeffrey Kohanek

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This was an author request, and I would recommend it to people who like YA and coming of age stories.


The story is fairly straightforward, and it’s a single POV book all seen through the eyes of Brock, a young kid who’s born into a poor family who works for his father’s tannery. In this society, if you are ‘unchosen’ you’re considered unclean and at the bottom of society. The Choosing is a ceremony that children go through during infancy where they receive a rune or a mark on their forehead to denote what career/craft they should grow up to be. To be unchosen is thought to be a mark against someone and the discrimination and hatred can get to be intense.

Brock has been stealing to try and make ends meet because his aunt is sick and needs medicine. She ends up dying, and Brock decides he wants to start over his life. He goes to someone in the criminal underground to get a fake rune marked on his head so he can move out of town and start his life over and someone else entirely.

He chooses the mark of the priesthood and takes his best friend along to go to the academy several hundred miles away.

He doesn’t arrive to the school until about halfway through the book – and trying to get there he encounters things like banshee’s and other monsters making it a rather rough journey.

Once there, he starts training and learning basic education like physics and also magic. While there he encounters a bully who’s the son of someone important, and the bully ends up murdering someone he cares about – so he has to prove it to get some justice for his friend.

Final Score: 7/10 


Brock is a pretty typical teenage kid, he gets nervous around girls and has a sense of adventure. He has a best friend who’s almost always at his side and helps him out with his journey to the academy. He sort of reflects a high school graduate going off to college and experimenting with stuff – he drinks a little too hard a few times and makes an ass out of himself and has to be told the next day what he did because he’s blacked out.

Brock doesn’t have a great relationship with his father and when he leaves town his dad doesn’t even really seem to care. There’s a love interest that comes in later in the book, but it didn’t take up a ton of page time. Overall, he is a nice kid with a lot of drive to prove himself.

Final Score: 7/10 

World Building:

The magic in this book is somewhat mysterious but also somewhat understood. The academy he’s studying at mixes science, math, literature and magic all into one for a well rounded set of classes.

Magic can be used to heal, but you can’t heal yourself with it, and you can’t use it to heal the mind. Severe depression or dementia can’t be helped by magic and no one knows why.

Brock followed his instincts a few times during stressful situations and ended up doing serious magic without meaning to – he ends up resurrecting someone who had been killed by a Banshee turning him into a red eyed monster of a person.

The professors/masters of the school are generally more serious and take their appearance and decorum to be important since Brock doesn’t behave this way he catches the attention of a lot of people.

There are stories about a Horde that wiped out towns, villages and cities long ago before they were finally stopped. But, there’s not a lot of information to go off of – the histories are sporadic and don’t describe what the horde was actually comprised of. Brock and his friends spend a lot of time trying to piece together what actually happened during that war.

Final Score: 7.5/10 


The pacing was okay, there was a lot of time between the beginning of the book to where he finally got into the academy. There were some interesting encounters with monsters and what not, but it was also a lot of travelling from town to town.

It was a decently written book, I caught a few spelling and editing errors but nothing too bad.

The tone was definitely lighter, Brock got himself into a lot of mischief and he was overall a light-hearted character with good intentions surrounded by generally decent people outside of the bully.

Pacing Final Score: 7.5/10

Writing Final Score: 7.5/10 


There was a lot of stuff I’ve seen done before, the YA adventure where a kid goes to magic school/academy with a bully for an antagonist is something I’ve read a lot about. The rune’s and how they effect society was well done, and some of how the magic works and doesn’t work was unique

Final Score: 7/10


  • For people who like coming of age stories
  • For people who like magic schools
  • For people who like adventures and lost knowledge
  • For people who like lighter stories
  • For people who like shorter books
  • For people who like monsters and legends

Final Score: 43.5/60 or 7.25/10


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