Coldness of Marek by Rachel O'Laughlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I haven't felt this immersed in the world of a book in a long time. Rachel O'Laughlin's attention to detail is amazing. She doesn't spend pages upon pages describing the world to you, but does an excellent job of letting you see it all through each character's eyes. The changes in POV were fluid, the overall voice never faltering, but still giving you a feel for the differences in the characters and their views. There were times I would come back from a reading break and forget that the story wasn't written in first person because of how strong of a feel I had for the characters, particularly Trzl.
The story has a great build, right from the action at the beginning. The intensity never seems to let up as you piece together what happened in the 10 years since Trzl and Mikel first met. I love the changes you can see in Trzl from that stubborn and somewhat naive rebel using her feminine wiles to aid the cause she so believed in, to the protective mother she is today, willing to anything and everything to keep her child safe.
Reading the fight scenes felt like watching a dance. They were easy to follow, but not mechanical in any way. Some writers can get a little too caught up in the action, making the fights too busy. But Rachel did an excellent job writing descriptions that might cause you to wince, but not scratch your head in confusion.
The romantic undertones were very well written and distinguished from the usual cliches you might find in fantasy novels. Trzl is not a damsel in distress by any stretch of the imagination, and Mikel is very much so the reluctant hero. The conflict between these two somehow manages to play a minor and major role in the overall story. It is a card that is never over-played by Rachel, which made the story all the more enjoyable. There might not be any actual hope for these two to get together with everything that has happened, but watching them fight against their own hearts is very compelling.
I was also very pleased with how Malcolm was written. He's a brave young boy instead of one hiding behind his mother's skirts. I loved how tough and intelligent he is. He picked up on a lot more than the adults gave him credit for, with the exception of perhaps Marek. The minor characters were all very well distinguished from one another, with their own sets of goals and problems. The twist with Tev really caught me offguard, which was great.
There isn't a dull moment in this book. Every chapter, every scene--something is always happening. I really can't sing enough praises for this book. I can't wait to see what happens with the sequel!
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