Wednesday, 23 April 2014
ARC Review: The Six Days
Author: Anna Carolyn McCormally
Genre: YA Fantasy/Adventure
Length: 278 pages (Arc, PDF for Kindle format)
Published by: Giant Squid Books
Summary (from Giant Squid Books' Website):
Fifteen years ago, in the middle of the night, Jamie Carpenter’s mother went up to the dark lighthouse on the cliffs above their small Maine town. She never came back.
Jamie has spent his whole life trying to forget her. But when his little brother Danny goes missing, Jamie has to face the facts: there is another world beyond the lighthouse–the world his mother came from. And Danny is being held for ransom: his life for the dangerous magical inheritance the Carpenter’s mother left her sons.
Caught in the middle of a war between witches, burdened by deadly family secrets and magic he can’t control, Jamie Carpenter has a whole new universe to search if he’s going to put together the pieces of the puzzle left behind by his mother and save his brother’s life. And he’s going to have to do it fast–because in six days the gate between worlds will close again.
When my amazing reading/writing/fangirling buddy Mal of LilaJune's Book Saloon first mentioned about Giant Squid Books and The Six Days over Twitter, I was immediately hooked. Giant Squid Books's philosophy and the promise of a beautiful story starring three half-witch (yes, that's witch) brothers had me sold. Things just got better for me when I contacted Giant Squid Books on Twitter with a question on how to purchase the book -- and ended up with an e-ARC, courtesy of the wonderful Rachel and team. Due to travels and other things, I only got to finish The Six Days this morning. And I feel a bit silly that it took me so long to start and finish it -- because I don't regret any second I spent reading it.
Reading The Six Days felt like watching a movie to me. The worldbuilding is so vivid, the characters -- protagonists, secondaries, antagonists -- so grey and diverse, the Point-of-View switch rapid and dynamic it got me engaged. I simply didn't have a room to get bored; I was always too busy keeping track of the world beyond the Gate, all the characters and their roles, and the twists and turns of the plot. Whilst parts of the plot seem cliched (for example a hostage, a hero who discovers his power in crisis, an evil and an even greater evil, power hidden in the most unsuspecting of people), the plot as a whole is engaging and interesting. It is a good, entertaining read -- one you don't simply forget upon finishing.
The thing I love the most about The Six Days is its refreshing take on love. In the midst of books about sweet teenage first love, tumultuous love triangles/squares/webs, and painful forbidden love, The Six Days is like a fresh breath of wind. There is a bit of teenage love drama and a couple of 'forbidden' couples, but family and brotherly love remains at the heart of it, and the book-siblings-fan in me rejoice at the fact. As different as perfect boy Cal, rebellious Jamie, and sweet Danny are, they love each other undoubtedly and fiercely. There are so many layers of their brotherly love, so many twists in the tale of their absent mother and distant father -- beautifully portrayed throughout the course of the story. These boys always have more than what meets the eye, even at the end of the story. Love does give you strength, after all.
The Six Days also provides a refreshing take in gender roles and sexuality. I haven't seen another story where all magical persons -- despite genders -- are referred as 'witch'; or where a queen has a wife and no one seems to bat an eyelid. There is a good gender-balance among the cast of characters, and no gender-defined roles in the world of the story. There are both male and female heroes, all equally courageous and endearing. Evils exist in both genders. It is brave, yet it is right (for me and people with similar mindset, at least :)), and I would love to see more work like this in bookstores. Kudos to Anna for her inclusive writing :).
If there is a minor complaint that I have, it would be about the characters' said ages and what they sound like to me in the book. Cal, Jamie, and Danny all seem younger than their ages (especially Danny, who often sounds like a child/preteen instead of a 15 year old), and so does Rebecca (who sometimes sounds like an angry girl in her late-teens instead of a 20-something young woman). While the main girl character Nia sounds like a solid 18 year old, Princess Sadia who is described as 'slightly older than Jamie' is sometimes more like a scared girl in her early teens. Whilst this didn't distract me from enjoying the story, it was at the back of my head all of the time -- at one point, I found myself ageing the characters backward so that they fit the images I have in my head.
All in all, though -- one book is not enough to explore the whole world McCormally has created. I find myself curious about the rest of it at the end of the book (the land of dragons? more about the lives of the commoners of both the Council and the Queendom? more about the Council's Army of Witches?). There is clearly a room (and plenty of hooks :)) for sequels here, and whilst I don't know if such books are in the plan, I do hope that they are ;).
My Final Rating: 4 stars
Have a good day there!
- Nath -