Review Blog

Jun 29 2012

Soulbound by Heather Brewer

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Legacy of Tril: Book one. Penguin Books Australia, 2012. ISBN: 9780143307181
(Age: Teens) Recommended. Heather Brewer sets her new series in a quasi-medieval fantasy world, dominated by a secret war between the Skilled and the seemingly immortal usurper King Darrick and all his evil henchmen. The Barrons (warriors) and Healers of the Skilled are controlled by the shadowy Zattai Council, while the ordinary people, known as Unskilled are apparently totally oblivious to the ongoing struggle for dominance.
Kaya is a Healer born of a forbidden romance between two Barrons. The rules are not only severe, but sometimes unexplained and illogical. For instance, why can't two Barrons fall in love? There's no clear reason given. And how it is that Kaya is a Healer? What makes it so? There are actually quite a few obvious plot-holes, so Soulbound isn't completely engaging.
But in terms of characters and action, most of the time, this book succeeds. Kaya is a feisty, unapologetic girl, determined to defend herself (see, why can't Healers learn to fight?). The two boys who come to care for her show their concern in different ways, and it is easy to see why Kaya struggles with her feelings for them. The struggle between the Barrons and the evil graplars is well described and suspenseful. Once Kaya learns how to defend herself (which is perhaps just a little too easy), the action intensifies and she is given a chance to prove her worth. This is the most effective part of the novel.
The plot is a mishmash of high school teen melodrama and Harry Potter. The popular girl guns for Kaya's Barron, and in classroom scenes crazy or mean teachers lecture information about Kaya's new world. I'd have liked the character of Maddox to be more consistent. As a Barron without a Healer, she is untrained and is given the (lowly) job of guarding Kaya. At times she is fiercely loyal and terrifically snarky, yet, given the opportunity to train (secretly) with Kaya, Maddox refuses, as she doesn't want to break protocol, and is scared she might have to confront the graplars. These opposing behaviours didn't ring true.
Soulbound has a great premise, it just could have been better executed. It really only skims the surface of the ideas, instead of building in depth and substance. But I am not sure teens will notice, the ones who love their paranormal romances will devour this.
Trisha Buckley

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