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Steven M. Booth

Author of Dark Talisman

1 Work 3 Members 1 Review

Works by Steven M. Booth

Dark Talisman (2013) 3 copies

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I received this book for free from Wunderkind PR in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dark Talisman is a fun, fantasy adventure tale that reads like a Dungeons & Dragons game for those on the young side of the young adult bracket. Unlike most of the fantasy books that I have been reading recently, Dark Talisman is all about the story. There is an exciting action sequence every couple of pages. This book moves at a fast clip. I must admit that I was surprised when a story line wrapped up within the first half of the book, because I thought this particular story line was to be the main plot. I found myself wanting to continue reading this book even when I felt almost too tired to read, because I wanted to know what would happen next. Just as soon as one plot point wrapped up, Altira would be thrust into a new and exciting situation.

In addition to the adventure, I really enjoyed getting to know Altira, the protagonist. She is a dark elf with a chip on her shoulder and wants to do everything by herself. Altira considers friends people who have not shown you their true colors yet. I really liked grumpy Altira and watching her learn to make friends and trust others even though she was actively trying not to like anyone. I can see the 12+ year old crowd relating to this gruff but caring dark elf. I also enjoyed getting to know the other characters too including Tyke, a dwarf who cares for Altira even when she is trying to ditch him at every turn.

Although I did enjoy this book, I did noticed a few problems. First, there are quite a few tropes in this book and certain situations are a bit too convenient. For example, Altira is a dark elf who doesn't want anybody's help. Very early on in the book, Altira meets Tyke, a dwarf, who helps Altira whether she wants his help or not. Although it is nice to see Altira start to care for this dwarf, it was unclear why he was helping her except because his help was needed to move the plot forward. To be honest, I didn't mind the tropes and multiples moments of convenience, because the book was filled with tropes that I enjoy and this book is geared at the young YA audience. I feel that the young YA readers will enjoy the tropes and not feel that they are so tried and true as much as a 30-something reader feels they are.

Second, the world building was a bit problematic. On one hand, Booth clearly thought long and hard about how this world should be designed. There are lots of different species (e.g., humans, elves, and dwarves), the politics of this world are fairly complicated, and the characters use slightly different sayings and words than what the book's readers use. This is clearly evidence of rich world building. At the same time, I feel that the readers were not given enough information. I am normally not a proponent of info dumping; however, I feel this book could have used a little bit of it. For example, there was never a real explanation regarding how much of Altira's magic is unique to her versus unique to dark elves. Characters kept being surprised by what Altira could do, but I was never sure why they were surprised. I have read a lot of fantasy books over the years, so I felt comfortable going with the flow of the vague world building; however, I could see other readers being totally lost with what was going on, if this was their first fantasy book. I kept feeling like I was reading book two (or later) in a series.

Overall, this was a fun book for the young YA demographic. I must admit that I am looking forward to learning what new adventures await Altira in the next book. I give this book a 3 out of 5.
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silverarrowknits | Jan 13, 2014 |

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