September 23, 2010

The Language of Souls: In a Nutshell (Adult but "YA friendly")

The Language of Souls by Lena Goldfinch (e-book format)

One sentence sum-up: A young healer, desperate to find a herb to heal her grandfather, is captured by a scout of the feared neighbouring mountain people.

My reaction: I felt as though the premise of this story had potential, but the actual execution didn't quite follow through. I was interested in the world that Goldfinch presents, but some of the invented words (inyx, votif, torpista, etc.) threw me for a loop at the beginning, as they are introduced with little description.

I did like both main characters Solena and Rundan (although they are a little too perfect to be wholly realistic), and the romance, though it felt a bit rushed, was sweet. This story is short enough to be considered a novella, and with some more plot and worldbuilding - particularly with the introduction of a villain, since there was no real 'bad guy' in this story - I think it might work as a lengthier novel. Indeed, I found the ending to be somewhat abrupt.

Best aspect: Some of the customs of the two countries were intriguing - for instance, the connection between the embers in the votifs and a person's soul, and Solena's healing abilities. I would love to see these concepts fleshed out and learn more about the two cultures, particularly the Ober Eden mountain people. I also enjoyed the device of throwing together two characters unable to communicate in a common language (until near the end), and having them need each other. Rundan saves Solena at one point, and she saves him at another, and a relationship develops between them without words.

If I could change something... I would include a glossary for the terms specific to the world, or use more description as they are introduced. Also, there were some cliched metaphors sprinkled throughout, and a lot of description of the characters' thought processes and changes of heart that were 'told' more than 'shown'. While the story does succumb to some of the traditional fantasy conventions, I did want to learn more about the world, cultures, and magic (in the form of Solena's healing abilities). I think the story would benefit from more thorough editing.

In five words or less: Potential not quite realized.

Shooting stars: 3 (but barely)


"Her embers were burning bright, and his were nearly out. Why should she have so much? More than enough for a rich life. More than enough for both of them.

For both of them. The words shook Solena, but she immediately cast the idea aside. It couldn’t be done. In the next instant, she questioned why."

Author's website:

Note: this is an adult book, but the material is YA-appropriate.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a free PDF file from the author for review.

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