TITLE: The Child-Stealers
SERIES: The Cursed Ground, book 1
AUTHOR: A. Roy King
FORMAT: Author provided Epub ARC
PAGES/LOCATIONS: 98 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 20, 2015
GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING: N/A
In “The Child-Stealers,” a young man named Boon undertakes a desperate search for his kidnapped sister, aided by a small force of loyal companions. Traveling from the peaceful agricultural community called the Till, Boon and his friends must learn how to face conflict and must unravel the mystery of the fierce raiders who are carrying off children into the wilderness.
This novella-length story is the first episode of “The Cursed Ground” historical-adventure series. A saga set in the ancient world, “The Cursed Ground” tells the story of a group of defenders who struggle to protect their communities from the growing violence in the world around them. Meanwhile, a small brotherhood is charged with carrying an unpopular message to humankind: The Creator has declared that this violent world will come to an end.
DATES READ: January 6-12, 2015
DISCLAIMER: I was provided a free copy of this book from the author, A. Roy King, in exchange for an honest review. This did not in any way impact or influence my opinion of Mr. King’s novel.
I will admit to having difficulty starting this review because I have been dealing with a number of mixed feelings and impressions about this book. I have read it a total of 3 times now since I received it from Mr. King, all of which were completed before I finally sat down to write this review – which I admit, I ended up waiting til the last minute to do because of my complicated thoughts regarding it. During my first read through, I just read the story from beginning to end letting it progress in my mind’s eye. It was during my second read through that I started asking questions, highlighting, and taking notes in my ebook. Then, during my final read through I went through and attempted to answer my earlier questions based upon what I had read – a process I only utilize when I am asked to review a specific piece of work. What I found is that King’s novel raises a lot of questions in the mind of the reader, but these questions aren’t necessarily answered in this novella which I found to be incredibly frustrating.
I have admitted in many of my previous reviews that I am a reader who is extremely character driven, I want to understand the reasons and motivations behind the choices that a character makes and I just don’t feel that Mr. King achieved conveying certain aspects of this in Boon’s character especially when it comes to understanding the relationship between Boon and his elder brother Ward. I feel as if the reader is missing a great deal of back story between Boon and Ward which would help us to understand why there is such animosity in their interactions and relationship – I can’t believe a single altercation between them (i.e. their fight over Ward’s shaking of Jewel) would be enough to justify this level of anger between them. Watching Boon and Ward interact also leads one to notice just how pessimistic Ward is which leads a reader to wonder why because it seems to greatly impact the relationship Ward has with his brother and other family members. A greater focus on character back story/development would have been a major improvement to the story for me.
I also found issue with understanding the point of these events – what was the point of the raiders stealing these children, specifically children with fair skin and red hair? The reader doesn’t find any sort of resolution to this question – I mean, I can attempt to make a logical leap but it could come out to be a wrongful assumption and nothing more. This is likely intended by Mr. King to serve as some sort of cliff-hanger with the answer being found in a later episode/novella, but I felt incredibly unsatisfied when I reached the end of the story and had little to no understanding of what the point of all of this was. The characters also discuss the occurrence of the cursed ground (i.e. the object the series/story arc’s title comes from), but they don’t actually explain what it is. I am then left with little to no understanding of what connects this idea of the cursed ground to the events of this story. I am just left with too many concepts and questions that need explanation.
TL;DR REVIEW: 3 out of 5 stars. King has the beginning of what could prove to be a great story, but I feel as if the utilization of the novella format is proving to be more harmful than beneficial in this case. I feel as if there are just too many questions left unanswered and the lack of resolution left me feeling unfulfilled. Perhaps reading all of the episodes of The Cursed Ground as a single book would change my feelings, but I won’t know until I have read the series in its entirety which is something that likely won’t occur for a while. I wish Mr. A. Roy King well with his future works and hope to figure out what all of this means for Boon, his stolen sister Jewel, and the other people living on the cursed ground.