A Copy of this Book was provided by the Author in exchange for an Honest Review
And an honest review he shall have. First lets do the book blurb: “What is the worth of your spirit?
In the world of Awya, where life is scattered across isles in a seemingly endless ocean of black liquid, the Isle of Winder is home to uymns whose primary trade is agriculture and flower cultivation. Here, an umyn boy by the name of Amory Demshen becomes obsessed with Tempertime Cemetery—a collection of portals powered by spirits that link the isles of Awya together, and a place forbidden to those without proper training and knowledge.
Amory disobeys the laws and his mother, sacrificing the qualities of youth and the virtues of his upbringing to pursue a selfish adventure connived by a hidden, sinister force. Unnerving truths and perilous consequences await as Amory—equipped with an authoritative jar, a chest of bewitching cards, and a flying stone slab—plunges into the darkness of the spirit collectors.
Will Amory learn the worth of a spirit in time to save his own?”
Let me begin by saying I did not finish this book. I made it to page 65 out of 200. That was it. And you are most likely asking yourself “Why?” The premise is interesting, and visually the book is a joy to look at. The author was nice enough to send me a hardcover copy of this book and what made me want to read it was the very lovely cover art and style of the book. Each chapter has a small image at the heading, which is very nice, and the inside covers hold some very nice landscapes showing the island world.
Sadly, the cover is about the only thing I can really say was good about this book.
Now again, I hate to do things like this. I struggle with reviewing things negatively. However, at the same time, I feel its my duty to provide honest feedback and opinions when I am given something.
I cannot, under any circumstances, recommend this book to anyone. At all.
Let me start by saying that the one good thing outside of the actual artistry of the book is that the premise seems interesting and the world is unique. The concept that there are these islands, separated by a vast ocean with the only real method of travel being these gates inside of graveyards is very very interesting.
But that is it. Let me start with our protagonist, Amory. He is a little kid, most likely around 10-12 years old although its never clearly defined in the bits that I read. He acts like a little kid as well, which is fine. He is super curious, and seems to feel that the rules should not apply to him because, well, he knows better. Within the first 65 pages all we get is his life on the island. No real plot development or anything. Just following him around from day to day, and watching as later on he starts to become a brat. He has two! near death encounters in the graveyard with the portal. The first one he basically forgets about because of a guard who finds him. The second he falls unconscious from. After the second he gets put under watch to keep him out of the graveyard and away from the portal, and he basically just gets madder and madder. It makes him unlikeable. At least as an adult reading it. Bratty children are not someone I want to cheer for personally.
Next is the plot. We have a 200 page book. The writing needs to be tight and focused to tell a good story in so short a time. But its not here. After 65 pages, about a 3rd of the way into the book, and I STILL had not seen any plot development. None. I did get an entire chapter devoted to a flower festival in the village though, and about how much Amory and his mother don’t like it. Why did that need to be there? It served very little purpose beyond fluff and world building, but in a 200 page book you gotta be careful with how much time you spend on that.
Another thing that drove me nuts was the writing style. First, Sharkchild is one of those super descriptive authors. Amory himself was described very little. He came off as a generic little boy. His mother however got 2 full paragraphs devoted to detailing her physically and mentally. His cottage got a full paragraph just for the exterior. I don’t know how Amory really looks, but I can tell you his cottage is wooden, with trellis on the outside, and on that trellis are green vines, and on those vines are purple flowers. This was important for me to know.
In addition to the overly descriptive nature of Sharkchilds writing, is his use of words. I am going to give you three sentences from the book. These are from the chapter devoted to the flower festival and are purely descriptive.
“The landscape was a glimmering rainbow of translucent resplendence”
“There were hundreds of different flowers – all transistors of moonlight – dispersing the flow of warm, ashen beams between their foliage and their petals, emanating neon radiance.”
“The golden glow of the candle fires meshed with the youthful, dull light pouring through the partially exposed windows”
Now if you see nothing wrong with those sentences and actually like them, then please, give the Spirit Collectors a read. Because the entire 65 pages that I did manage to get through? Its peppered with that sort of writing. It drove me mad. I even asked several other adults I work with, intelligent people, how they felt about these sort of sentences, and generally the response I got was “The hell does resplendence mean?” I had to explain it basically means really pretty and bright.
And this writing style touches on my final issue: Who is this book for? The way the plot is written, and who the main character is, implies that this is a young adult or children’s novel. Its short length also attributes to that. But the word choices make it seem like its for a much older audience.
Overall I cannot in any way recommend this book. I am giving it a 1/5. Stay away from this book. Unless you want a showpiece on your shelf cause seriously, the art is amazing. But that is all this book is: Window Dressing. A Showpiece. All style, no substance.