09 July 2012

The Human by Janine K. Spendlove


Eirnin's silver eyes, now showing hints of bright yellow, widened in astonishment as he stared, transfixed, at the red blood dripping from the wound on Story's foot.

"What are you?"


A simple question with a not-so-simple answer for seventeen-year-old Story, who finds herself, a lone human, thrust in the middle of a war between creatures she once thought only existed in faerie tales.

I’m not usually one to read a self-published work, but I made an exception for The Human, and I’m glad I did. The book felt a lot like old Tolkien High Fantasy, with a vast sprawling world and epic races of characters. Add in a good dash of good old fashioned Wizard of Oz with its ‘need to get home’ premise and its throngs of characters centering around a naive central figure and you’ll be pretty close to the feeling of this book and its world.

The characterization in this book is a little wonky. Story is not consistenly written, feeling at times like a little girl with her “it’s not fair!” exclamations and at other times a seasoned adult. To be fair I feel this is a ‘Tolkienism’ so it wasn’t too annoying. I liked how the author took a common Mary Sue trope of ‘eyes changing with mood” and worked it into a raceo f characters in a way that didn’t make them seem overpowered. It’s something that’s pretty easy to get annoying quickly but I thought Eirnin skirted the line very well. The romance is set up pretty much from the beginning, and although it’s telegraphed with a big shiny neon sign the journey seemed pretty realistic and healthy. The other characters are fun and given enough characterization to serve their purpose. The plot has the pacing of Tolkien (glacial) but it works along with the feel of the world and the book. The major plot twist is telegraphed well in advance but it comes with a twist that works well.

In all I recommend this book to anyone who’s longing for the golden age of high fantasy with all its tropes and highlights but yearns for strong female characters to take center stage. If Tolkien annoys you, though, you may want to give this a pass. Myself, I’ve already pre-ordered book two.

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