This was one of those stories that pulls you in and digs deep into your soul. It will make you laugh; it will bring you to tears; it will linger long after you finish the last page. It isn’t a story for the faint of heart. After all, it’s about a young girl dying from an incurable disease so how can it be a happy story, right? But it is. Somehow, it is.
A few things I loved about this story:
- The characters. They were so well developed and so multi-faceted. Even the “villain” of the tale, the future empress, wasn’t just a mindless face of evil, but a young woman with a heart and story of her own. Niya was the perfect balance of fragility and strength that every heroine needs. Jayesh was swoon-worthy, beyond words, in all the ways: flawed and yet so romantic. I’m not sure I can tell you the one thing I loved most about him because it contains spoilers. Alk–oh, horrible, sweet, awful, wonderful Alk! His story arc, to my surprise, touched me almost as deeply as Niya’s: not something most sidekicks can boast of.
- The setting. This fantasy world is so vivid and colorful. Set in an ancient realm reminiscent of our own far eastern cultures, Spice Bringer is a delicious blend of jungles, waterways, and spices. The people are just as diverse, some wonderful and others horrid.
- The religion. This surprised me most of all. I went into this book knowing the religion wouldn’t be a strict representation of Christianity, but since I’ve always been fascinated with other cultures and their beliefs, I wasn’t worried. However, I wasn’t prepared for how deeply I would like this culture and the gods they worshiped. Instead of One God with Three Persons, Ms. Burke created a three god culture that each represented a characteristic of the One God (Kind, Just, and All-Knowing). And the religion wasn’t just a vague backdrop in the story, but it actually played a huge role in the characters’ development and worked its way into their discussions so naturally. It was thought-provoking and fascinating.
I could go on and on. I tried hard to think of something I didn’t like about this story–because I do like to be honest and open with other readers–but this story truly earned its Five Star status in my eyes. My one regret was that it was such a sad book…but this ended up being one of the things I also loved most about it. So if you love books that make you smile and sniffle in turn, if you love being swept away to foreign worlds and strange cultures, if love going on quests with consequences that reach farther than most of us could ever truly imagine, you are sure to adore Spice Bringer.
About the Author:
Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.
An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.
Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.
She is the author of a four part fantasy/romance series entitled “The Dragon and the Scholar,” the Award Winning (2016 Realm Award for Young Adult Fiction) Nyssa Glass Steampunk series, and MG/Fantasy “Cora and the Nurse Dragon,” among others .
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