#SPFBO Reviews – next up

As per my blog post last week, I am reviewing the opening excerpt of the fantasy books in my group (Lynn’s Book Blog) who are partaking in Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO competition.

Next up are:

Spark of Defiance: Games of Fire Book 1 by Autumn M Birt


Goblin Fruit (Gobbled book one) by S.E Burr

So, without further ado here are my scores and corresponding reviews: Oh, and don’t forget if you want to read an excerpt or download a book yourself just click on the title next to my score and it will whisk you over to Amazon.

Spark of Defiance 8/10

Ok, first things first. I need to get this off my chest. I have a thing about character names, particularly ones that are tricky to pronounce or are out of the ordinary. Don’t get me wrong I get why unusual names are needed, this is a fantastical world after all, and your bog standard Frank and John just wouldn’t cut it. I’m totally down with that!

The thing is (and this is very personal to me, so hasn’t been reflected in the overall score) I’ve often given up on books when I just can’t seem to get past the name thing. What I mean by that is, I often find myself pondering over whether I’m pronouncing the names correctly rather than getting completely immersed in the story. The only reason I mention this now is to explain why it took me longer to get into this excerpt than it would usually. I found myself distracted by the different names and had to read this excerpt twice to ensure I gave it a fair shot.

That being said, once I’d got used to the various names of the characters, this is a pretty great read. Again, Spark of Defiance has all the hallmarks of a brilliant epic fantasy. I was intrigued enough by the excerpt to want to find out more about the world of Myrrah, it’s inhabitants, and the concept of elemental magic. I wanted to know why some characters appeared to be repressed because of their abilities, why Zhao has returned home to see his sister only to be received coldly, and why her child seemed to be particularly gifted. In chapter two we are introduced to Sinika who is being held prisoner, and by all accounts no longer an elemental.

I got the sense that there was already some history between the characters that I didn’t know about, and I wondered whether this was a follow on series of some sort. When I checked out the other books written by this author I found that I wasn’t far off the mark. The Rise of the Fifth order series appears to set up the world and the characters / politics / history within it and this series, Games of Fire– of which Sparks of Defiance is the first book of- a follow on from that. The author explains that both series can be read as standalones but are a part of the same world and include some of the same characters.

I would go far as to say that I predict the rest of the book will be a pretty impressive read. For now it’s a solid 8/10.

Product Details

Please note the author has changed her cover than previously listed in Lynn’s Book Blog. I think this was a good choice, this cover is a much better representation of the story in my opinion.

Goblin Fruit  7/10

This is a young adult fantasy revolving around two female protagonists Clara and Audrey both of whom have lost a relative to catalepsy caused by taking the ‘goblin fruit’. The excerpt introduces the reader to the two girls, who meet at a medical unit for goblin fruit users. The fruit is a highly addictive drug that can either affect the user immediately, and put them in a catatonic state, or will eventually do so after several uses. Either way, it would appear, if you use goblin fruit you will end up a drooling, mindless mess. Not only that, everyone else is forced to wear gloves so that they do not come into contact with the fruit essence that can seep from a users hands. I love this added little twist, lends a bit of extra danger to the story and prevents the kind of physical contact we take for granted, like holding someone’s hand.

It is, or at least appears to be, a cautionary tale of drug abuse but with a twist. I don’t think they’re called goblin fruit for nothing! I’m assuming the rest of the book will delve into the fantastical world of goblins and, given I am a huge fantasy, young adult book fan, (even though I am WELL past that age group) this book has certainly intrigued me enough to want to see what happens next.

My only gripe, and it is a small one, is the way the author has defined the different protagonists voice. The author moves between Audrey and Clara’s point of view chapter by chapter, and whilst I have no problem with this at all, I was a little thrown that this was denoted by different text, rather than, say, using the character’s name at the beginning of each chapter. It’s not a big thing, and hasn’t affected my score but just a niggle I wanted to point out.

This starts as an easy, well paced young adult read and I give the excerpt a solid 7 /10.

That’s it for this weeks reviews. Up next are:

A Gaze of Flint by Sandy Hyatt-James and The Age of Mages by Ilana Waters.

Until then folks!


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