Monday, December 30, 2013

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff is a rather dark juvenile fantasy.

Jemma grew up as part of the Agromond family, but just hours before her thirteenth birthday, she discovers that she was raised by them for a dark and deadly purpose. Jemma has magical powers, more than she ever realized, and the Agromonds intend to steal them in order to help bolster their own strength, which they use to cloak the land in mist and exert their influence over all of the land's inhabitants. Unless Jemma wants to be part of their dark sorcery, she must flee the castle and seek out her true family. Of course, the Agromonds will not let her go so easily. Can Jemma escape the castle, find her family, and awaken her powers in time to save the kingdom?

I wanted this to be a better story than it was. The cover is eye-catching and the premise is sound, but the writing and characterization don't live up to the book's potential. Jemma makes her way through the story mostly by chance, overhearing key conversations and being rescued multiple times by the few people and creatures in the land who oppose the Agromonds' rule. And she has a magical book that will give her any information she might need, though she is oddly hesitant to use it. The author also over-used anagrams as a puzzle element, in my opinion. Jemma's adventures are unrelentingly dark and gristly; I was exhausted (and often repulsed) just reading about them, but despite the constant adventure and danger, the book dragged along for me. There are probably readers out there who will enjoy this mixture of fantasy and horror, but I don't particularly recommend it unless you are willing to overlook the mediocre writing.

(Reviewed from a finished copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

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