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December 11, 2018

The Reader by Traci Chee ~ a Review

by MK French

There were redcoats on the road. The gravel path that cut through the tangled jungle was teeming with people, and the mounted Oxscinian soldiers rode above the seas of foot traffic like lords in a parade: their fine red jackets unblemished, their black boots polished to a high shine. At their waists, their sword hilts and gun grips glinted in the gray morning light. ~ first chapter, first paragraph.

Sefia has been in hiding or on the run her entire life, and now her Aunt Nin has been captured by the same people that had murdered her father. They were looking an object that he had been hiding, with symbols that gradually Sefia learns to understand. In a society that has no written language, the power of a book is also the power of magic, and some people will do just about anything to get it.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Reader
September 2016; G.P. Putnam's Sons
audio, ebook, print (464 pages)
middle grades, fantasy, mystery
The Reader has three separate timelines going at once, and it isn't until much later that you see how they intersect. At first, I thought that the other timelines were simply excerpts from the book that Sefia was reading to Archer, but then we see Captain Reed and members of his crew. The stories she reads about Captain Reed aren't just stories but are as real as she is. And it isn't that reading the stories created them out of magic, but the book that Sefia carries and learns to read from also tells the stories of just about everyone in the land. There is a lot of action in each of the storylines, in the form of slavers, assassins, and the high seas adventures. It felt almost cinematic in how they were described, and it really pulled me into the story. The fact that written words carry magic in this world is a rather obvious allegory for the way a good book can draw you inside of it and feel alive.

This is listed as Book One, and it's the start of a trilogy. I haven't picked up the next two books yet, but they're bound to be just as fascinating and wonderful as this one.

Buy The Reader at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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  1. When I saw "redcoats," I thought of the American revolution. But then I saw "Oxscinian" and wondered who those soldiers could be. Now I'm definitely curious about the world this author has created.
    My Tuesday post features excerpts from Joy That Long Endures.

    1. It's definitely a great world to read, and I still need to pick up the others in the series!

  2. Oh, yes, a life in hiding sounds intense and frightening. Thanks for sharing, and here's mine: “THE COMFORTS OF HOME”

  3. I like a good historical fiction story because it helps me understand what real people's lives were like during that time period. This one looks good.

    1. Well, this one is more fantasy than historical fiction.

  4. Not a genre I read but I hope you enjoy it. I do like the cover!

  5. I started reading this one a while ago, but for some reason never finished. I think you've made me want to give it another go!

  6. Thai sounds interesting. I think I’d keep reading.

    1. I really liked this, so I hope you enjoy it, too. :)