Author: Kristen Hunt
Release Date: Oct. 13 2015
pre-order from Amazon here.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to send a big thank you to NetGalley for this book, and also to everyone at SparkPress Publishing, as well as Kristen Hunt herself.
I have to say, I love the cover. Usually, I am not a big fan of covers with people on it, but this cover is gorgeous. I also like the Raven, which is connected with the story, and our protagonist. I don’t based my rating on the cover, since I don’t believe the cover is a reflection of the author.
Part Viking, part Eskimo, Neiva Ellis knew her family’s ancestral home, the island of Spirit, Alaska, held a secret. A mystery so sensitive everyone, including her beloved grandmother, was keeping it from her. When Neiva is sent to stay on the island while her parents tour Europe she sets out on a mission to uncover the truth, but she was not prepared for what laid ahead.
On the night of her seventeenth birthday, the Eskimo rite of passage, Neiva is mysteriously catapulted into another world full of mystical creatures, ancient traditions, and a masked stranger who awakens feelings deep within her heart. Along with her best friends Nate, Viv and Breezy, she uncovers the truth behind the town of Spirit and about her own heritage.
When an evil force threatens those closest to her, Neiva will stop at nothing to defend her family and friends. Eskimo traditions and legends become real as two worlds merge together to fight a force so ancient and evil it could destroy not only Spirit but the rest of humanity.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never read a book based on Eskimo’s mythologies; which is what attracted me to this book in the first place. Usually, I’ve found books based on Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies–the last two are not that popular.
The protagonist is based on the author’s grandmother. She is the original Blonde Eskimo, nicknamed as such by the Eskimos Elders. In other words, the story is based on the author’s heritage.
The story itself is relatively original. I liked the fact that I got to learn a little it about Eskimos’ traditions, and legends.
The story is set on an island called Spirit, which is seventy-miles off the coast of Nome, Alaska. Neiva moves there to live with her grandmother, and to finish high school. It is very hard to change schools while you’re in your final year. I know this, because I moved when I was in my senior year. Unlike Neiva, I moved to a completely different country, where I knew no one. Since I know how it is, I can sympathize with her on this topic. Luckily for Neiva, she already had some friends there: Nate, Liv and Breezy. She got to know them a little bit while she was staying at her grandmother during her holidays, but now she got to actually know them, and they become closer friends.
Nieva wants to find out the island’s secrets, but she’s kinda thrown head first into the mystery, and she finds out she is part of that world. There are all sorts of creatures with unique abilities. I would’ve love to read a glossary about them. I think it would help the reader a lot to keep up with the creatures, and to learn a little bit more about them. Like a list at the back of the book with the creature’s names, and a brief description. Don’t get me wrong, the new creatures are described inside the story, since Neiva meets them, but since they’re so many, it can get a little bit confusing.
The story is written well, with short chapters, and it is fast paced. Everything takes places in a short amount of time; I think around a week. Most of the action, and the new information is given while Neiva is camping with her friends. There are quite a few chapters dedicated to that. I am not mentioning in a good, or bad way, it is just an observation.
It is a third person narrative, with different points of view. Mostly we get to read from Neiva’s point of view, but we have a few chapters/scenes from other characters, especially Darius.
I like most of the characters, including Neiva. This is what I think of each one of them:
Nieva. She is a lovely girl. I like the fact that she has a good relationship with her parents and grandmother. She is also a good student, and values her education. While she discovers more about the Spirit world, and her heritage, she didn’t grew up much in this novel. I suppose it will happen in the next book, since this is the first in a series (?). Nieva has some powers as well, but she does not know how to use them, since she didn’t have time to learn more. Therefore, in most situation she is being saved.
Nate. A nice lad, as well. Close to his father, and Neiva’s grandmother. He also seems to be a good friend. Nate is also funny, or at least some scene’s involving him are funny.
Liv. I found her to be the bad-ass in this story. She is powerful, short tempered, and would not leave a fight. I think there will be something between her and Nate. I do hope to see more of her in the next book. Not saying way, because I don’t want to spoiler.
Breezy. I think, in a way, she is the opposite of Liv. She is also powerful, but she is clam, calculated, and bubbling.
Darius. Nieva’s love interest, and a King. He also seems to be immortal, or close to it. I didn’t understand very well why he didn’t die of old age. That is still a mystery. I hope in the next book there will be more details about this. I can’t say much about him, because we don’t get to know him very well. He is powerful, he likes to follow the rules (what rules, exactly we don’t know yet), he misses his brother, and he has feelings for Nieva. I think he’s character will be develop more in the next book.
Romance. It is not the main plot of this novel, but it is a major sub-plot. Darius and Nieva are suppose to be star-crossed lovers. They don’t know much about each other, but they already have feelings for one another. It is not very developed, it’s just there. Again, since this is the first novel, I suppose there will be some developing in the next book(s).
I personally like the Raven guy more. I hope he and Nieva end up together. 🙂
It is not about good or bad writing when it comes to the romance. These days, I tend to be very picky. Some people like/love star-cross romance, others not so much. In other words, it’s simply about personal taste.
Action. There are plenty of action scenes in this novel. People are getting hurt, some die, some get kidnapped. The antagonist is very mysterious. We don’t get to know what s/he really wants, or why is s/he doing this. Power is one reason, but there has to be more to her/him. Again, we’ll probably find out more about it in the next book(s).
I would’ve like to find out why Nieva’s parents had to live, and why they couldn’t take her with them. Nieva’s grandmother mentions that they had a good reason for it, but nothing else. I think this issue could’ve been solve in this book, not in the next ones. Or maybe there is a good reason for letting this end lose.
The Kindle version needs to be cleaned up. I’m referring to the pictures. They’re split into pieces, and one piece appears on one page, the next on the next page. I suppose that will be dealt with before the release (maybe it is already fixed).
General thoughts. I liked this book. I am intrigued, and I really want to know how everything will work out. I recommend it for everyone who likes YA, fantasy, mythology. Or for the people who don’t usually read mythologies based books, but what to give it a shot; The Blonde Eskimo would be a great book to start with.
I will read and review the next books. It will be a duology, trilogy or a series? Not sure yet, we’ll find out.