Happy Saturday, friends! Today I’m excited to share my review for Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani, the third finalist of the 2022 BBNYA! I read this book as part of the BBNYA Finalist Blog Tour hosted by The Write Reads.
Special thanks to the tour organisers for having me on tour and to the author for providing a digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!
BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website or Twitter. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.
Subolt (Sunbolt Chronicles #1)
Publisher: Purple Monkey Press
Publication Date: 17 June 2013
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS
Death of parent, mild xenophobia, violence, blood, imprisonment, torture
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TL;DR: This is my first book by Khanani and I can see why so many of my blogger friends love her writing and her books. There was so much to enjoy about this novella and the author does a good job of teasing elements of a world that I’m hoping will be further expanded in the next book. The characters are a rich mix of different cultures and I also enjoyed the paranormal fantasy setting. We’ve got the typical vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters, but also other supernaturals that I’ve not read about before, combined with an interesting magic system that I’m looking forward to understanding more of. Overall, I thought this was an intense, action-packed novella that excited me for the next book in this series and I want to read it ASAP!
In less than 200 pages, Sunbolt takes us on a whirlwind adventure with plenty of action and magic. Our MC is Hitomi, an orphaned teen who is strong-willed, honourable and willing to fight and sacrifice to see justice prevail. It was so easy to root for Tomi and to want to see her get free of her various captors throughout the read. One thing is for sure, she’s not the “weak young thing” that people perceive her to be and she’s definitely not someone who’s easily defeated! I loved her grit and strength of character and despite hiding a huge life-changing secret and encountering fearful monsters she’s only ever briefly encountered before, she doesn’t let that fear stop her from taking action and using her brain. This determination combined with her big heart was something that I also really loved about her!
There’s a big cast of side characters that we briefly meet along the way and there were some I loved (Hotaru!), some I strongly disliked and wanted to give a good shake to (IFYKYK), and others that I was very curious about (Val, Mistress Stormwind), but they mostly existed to move things along in this novella. I hope that we return to and get to learn more about many of them in the next book because I loved the levity of their humour and the lightness of their interactions with Tomi.
I think what would’ve made this book stronger is better world-building. I appreciated the rich mix of cultures and the diversity of the characters—from Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and the West (from what I can tell), but what was lacking was a clear history and geographical understanding of this world. I don’t know if this Karolene and the other lands have already been established in a previous book/series but we’re kind of thrown into it without much context. We do get drops of information further in the read about historical conflicts, mages and different types of magic, as well as other supernaturals, but it’s very minimal. This is a book that would’ve benefitted from having a map available at the start, but I appreciate that the author provided a short pronunciation guide (although I found it funny that the first word after said guide wasn’t included in it and it would’ve been great if it was! 😂). The world-building we got was enough to pique my interest though and the need to know more drove me to keep reading.
Overall, I thought that this was a great first book and I’m looking forward to continuing Hitomi’s story. I’m also really looking forward to reading more by Khanani cos their writing has an intense but wonderfully compelling quality that made me want to keep reading.
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah, on the coast of the Red Sea. Intisar used to write grants and develop projects to address community health and infant mortality with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. She is the author of The Sunbolt Chronicles, and the Dauntless Path novels, beginning with Thorn.
Have you read Sunbolt or is it on your TBR?
9 thoughts on “BBNYA Tour Review: Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani”
I haven’t seen this cover before, but I read Sunbolt (and the sequel) years ago and I’ve kept up with her books ever since.
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Thorn has been on my TBR forever. I didn’t even know she’d written another book! It sounds interesting though
Putting this on the list for my kid. Great review!
Brilliant review, Dini! I totally agree about the world building & I’m hoping to get a better understanding in the second book (I think it’s longer) which I’m hoping to pick up soon 😀
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Been on the fence with this author for a while but I think I’ll now add this to the longlist – great review