Sehmah’s Truth (Beneath the Willow Book 1) by A.J. Culey

DOES NOT STANDALONE. 

Summary

She created his world and made him the hero of her story. Now she’s living that story with him.

Samantha and her twin brother spent their childhood creating an imaginary world beneath the willow tree in their backyard. Two years after her brother’s death, Samantha is unexpectedly transported to their fantasy world, where she meets Takeem, the hero of every story she’s ever written.

With Takeem by her side, and danger at every turn, Samantha discovers the world she created is nothing like what she imagined. Having somehow landed in the middle of her own evolving story, she must now find the courage to live it.

Characters

There is a lot of jumping around of characters in the book. From Takeem/Samantha, to the history before Takeem, and back to Jennifer on Earth. I felt like a ping pong ball sometimes. The author could do with making these transitions a little clearer for eBook, but it wasn’t terrible, just disjointed at times.

That being said I had a hard time liking characters. They all had such flaws and such heartbreaks. However, the more I read the more I liked them. Many of their flaws fell away – particularly Takeem. Samantha was still depressing and grief stricken from time to time but she started to come alive more and more – making her a better character.

Plot

This plot is a slow burn. It takes a while to makes its point and for the full plot to form, but when it does it is quite enjoyable. By the time I was halfway through the book I raced through the last half. It took me 12 days to get through the first half of the book and three to get through the other half. The creativity of the world and the art in which the author portrays it really takes shape in the second half. This is likely due to character introduction and the flashbacks taking over much of the first part of the book.

The plot, like the character’s backstories and overall emotions, is dark. The world she created; Lutia. It is dreary and dark. She brings light but her own light is dimmed by recent tragedies. The world of Lutia is as broken and messed up as she is. I don’t want to ruin anything, but this plot as more depth than it first seems. It is important to give it time – at least 50%. This book does not standalone – the ending is clearly meant to go into a second book.

Overall

This book is bleak and I’m not sure it is suitable for most YA readers. It is SUPER dark starting out. No one seems to be happy in this book at the beginning…or for most of it. That is the first thing that hits me. I sighed like a billion times for the first 25% of this book because the characters are just so miserable. It dredges up deeper darker feelings; loss, betrayal, unhappy choices, death, and oppression. Not normally my cup of tea, and then the author hints at more going on – which a little more push than earlier. Once I figured that out it started to flow better.

The characters are interesting but some of the secondary characters seem a little generic at times. This improves as the book goes on but I didn’t get a good feel for them until much later. That being said, if you can get over the darker themes, this book is quite good. The reason comes down to the world building. I freaking love this world. The plot and characters can go hang next to the vivid imagery of this world. The plot was good, the characters were okay, but the WORLD was amazing. From the willow trees (Shrouded Ones) to Huk. Amazing imaginary.

Rating

4 Stars

I liked it. I couldn’t merry up the darker themes with the YA feel at times, but I still enjoyed it. I don’t know if I would recommend it to anyone under the age of 16. Honestly it wasn’t until after I finished it that I decided I liked it and it was more because of the world and the creativity of it than anything else.  If you like creative fantasy worlds – this book is for you.

I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

 

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