My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was seriously difficult to rate. It was so confusing, and I felt like I had so many unanswered questions while reading it (the Glossary at the end actually helped explain a few things, but honestly I wished they’d been explained during the story itself, for ease of understanding) that I would normally hesitate to give it more than two stars.
I actually enjoyed the story. Perhaps the confusion wasn’t all due to the book; I have a low capacity for new words, and this book was full of them. I read the e-book version, so I wasn’t aware there was a glossary until the end of the book, and by then I was simply glad to have a bit more information about the terms.
The story follows Kaliel, an elven girl, and Krishani, a boy whose origins are not known until the end of the book (and even then, I personally am not sure). They meet at the beginning of the book, feel an overpowering attraction to one another, and their paths keep crossing over time, as if they are somehow fated to fall in love.
But they both have been given prophecies by the Old Oak Tree (prophecies which are pretty obscure and not easy to decipher, at least for me) which seem to imply that they cannot be together. Also, we are repeatedly told that they are destined to “marry the land”. What exactly “marry the land” means, along with the origins and relevance of the Old Oak Tree, is mysteriously never explained.
I was entranced from the start by the hints of an elaborate and magical world. The library in the prologue, where the parchment featuring the Ferryman and the Flame (the title of this series) is first introduced; the world of Avristar, which somehow borders the Land of Men (another place that is never successfully explained- I wonder if it was just too obvious, if the Land of Men was supposed to be assumed to be Earth? – And the relationship between the Land of Men and Aristar is also not really fleshed out); the merfolk; the kinfolk; Kaliel’s ability to speak to trees and horses; Krishani’s ability to… (to tell you the truth, I never really understood what he was being trained in); Pux’s ability to change objects’ colours and to “transport” from one location to another in an instant…
All of those things and more intrigued me and kept me reading. I was dismayed that none of them were ever fully realized or explained. Was I expecting too much from the book? I almost felt like I was missing something, like I had to go back to the beginning and re-read, but I’m fairly certain that I didn’t miss anything; the explanations were just lacking.
Anyways, I followed Kaliel and Krishani’s story with interest, ignoring my many questions about the world they live in, until: we find out their true natures (The Ferryman and The Flame). (I feel that this isn’t a spoiler, as it’s the title of the book).
Again, what, I kept asking myself IS a Ferryman? And what IS a Flame? (Even the glossary wasn’t of any help for those ones). The best explanation I could come up with was that a Ferryman is a sort of guide for souls as they travel from life to afterlife. And a Flame is some kind of… magical force. What their purposes are, I don’t know.
Moving on, we also learn that a group called the Valtanyana are the bad guys. Who exactly are they? Not sure. What causes the war to break out? Again, not sure.
The end of the book? Makes as much sense as it could, considering I was still at a loss about the whole Ferryman/Flame thing. I actually liked what Kaliel chose to do. However, the e-book version I read came with an Alternate ending, which honestly just confused me even more. At that point, I was ready to call it quits with this series, having enjoyed the overall idea of the first book but being at a loss as to how it might continue.
I was also treated to a Special Excerpt of book two, though, and it begins in the same Great Library as the first book. The parchment is mentioned again, and its link to the Valtanyana. Will all be explained to my satisfaction in the second book? Will I even read the second book? Only time will tell.
If you’re up in the air about reading this, ask yourself whether you can, for the sake of a fairly interesting premise, suspend your need to have things explained. If yes, I’d say give this a try: I enjoyed it enough to get through all 390ish pages. If you need all the answers, I’d pass.
Thank you to the publishers, Coscom Entertainment, who through NetGalley provided me with this e-book for review!
PS– this is my 200th blog post!! Hooray :)