Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Title: Erekos

Author: A. M. Tuomala

Synopsis (Courtesy of Amazon): “Her sister swore that she would never let her die; now the entire world may pay the price.

In a land where gods walk beside men and witches defy death, war changes everything. Scholar and warrior, witch and king, priestess and corpse—all must come together to save their world from the ravages of the coming tempest.

For three hundred years, Erekos and Weigenland have fought to hold the borderland between the two nations. As the first storms of the flood season scour Erekos from the swamplands to the feet of the mountains, the Erekoi king discovers a dangerous new weapon that might be able to end the war: the witch Achane, who has raised her sister from the dead.

Achane and her sister, dragged apart on the very doorstep of a temple, must work to find each other again before the magic that binds them also kills them. In the process, Achane must overcome her grief—and the temptation of the king’s plans for Erekos.

Meanwhile, on the mountainous border between the two warring lands, the student Erlen finds his research interrupted by the encroaching conflict. Driven by a militant love for this neutral territory and its people, he determines to defend his newfound homeland at any cost.

In a land where gods walk the earth and myth manifests along the rivers and in the mountains, ordinary men and women must fight to make their own stories before the war unwrites them all.”

Thoughts: One cannot love every book; in fact, one cannot like every book. Yet, one can learn from every book one reads. My learning from Erekos is that I need to be more selective of the fantasy/speculative fiction novels I choose to read. It taught me that while I enjoy novels that posit a very different future, I do like them to be somewhat realistic. If it is fantastic, the fantasy must be extremely well-written and explained. Unfortunately, Erekos did not mean any of those requirements, and as such, I struggled profusely to finish it.

The story itself never made sense. I could not tell who was fighting whom or the reasons behind the war. The fact that there were gods and goddesses walking about added another layer of complexity to an already-confusing plot. A reader never discovers what makes these cultures clash so much or where they are in the grand scheme of things. Are they on Earth? Are they on a different planet/land? Why do they hate each other so much? For those who are allies, what is their relationship and how do they fit into this new-to-the-reader culture? There are so many unanswered questions that the reader is left drifting through the pages in a valiant attempt to tie it all together and yet failing.

However, as much as I was left clueless about what was occurring and why, the writing does much to overcome its faults. The bond between Achane and her sister is overpowering and yet slightly horrifying. Erlen’s search for resolution to the ongoing conflict is understandable and admirable. Love for family and love for country are two things that never change, no matter what the backdrop of a story, and Tuomala captures that perfectly.

I cannot condemn Erekos or the author for its failure to capture my attention completely. For the right audience, I suspect that Erekos would leave someone stunned in its grandeur. I personally felt it was trying too hard to appeal to a larger audience without taking the time to explain the most basic of details about this unfamiliar world. Yet, without having read it, I would have never discovered my limitations on fantasy or speculative novels. As much as I may have disliked the novel, I still was able to get some good out of it.

Thank you to Kate Sullivan from Candlemark and Gleam for my review copy!

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