Strands of Existence (Book One: Island Girl),by Aino Lahteva
Hey guys, are you having a good week?
Things have been quite hectic here. I recently started an Open University course in psychology, and also began trialling different medications for adhd, so fingers crossed all goes smoothly.
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing Strands of Existence (Book One: Island Girl), the first in a series of unique fantasy novels by author Aino Lahteva.
Istrae Elona is to wed Cowe, a man she despises on her home island. However, she dreams of more: to see the world around her, especially Kerth, the city of abundance and light. After falling into the sea, Istrae finds herself rescued by a Karth citizen, Rime. With her dream of seeing the world now a reality, Istrae begins to learn the truth of Kerth, along with a hidden truth about herself.
Istrae, an Island girl, has always wished to flee her home, in search of more. Her natural curiosity and determination shine through in everything that she does, making her a highly likable character.
Rime, an upper city Karth soldier came across as honourable and ambitious, reaching for higher places within his home city. His initial relations with Istrae seemed strained, like he was keeping his distance from her, however as time progressed, he exuded a general warmth when in her presence.
Launea, a Temple healer provided a conflict in regard to Instrae and Rime’s progressing relationship, as her own affections for Rime were made known to me as a reader. Launea seemed sneaky, projecting a kind façade and I didn’t warm to her character much over the course of the novel.
Finally, I’d like to discuss Riestel, a complex character that makes his appearance about halfway through the book. At first, Riestel appears brash and cruel. I genuinely hated him with a passion, which was great, because he got me emotionally involved in the later events of the story. Though I’d initially judged him as cruel, I gradually discovered hidden depths to him that made me rethink my first judgement.
There was so much to like about this story that I’ll just dive in.
First off, I loved the writing style. It really pulled me into the world and had me relating strongly with the character’s experiences. Alongside this, the plot was well explored, with emotional subplots that were seamlessly integrated into the main story. One example involves the budding relationship between Rime and Instrae, which felt playful and enjoyable to experience as a bystander. There was an initial wholesomeness to their interactions that made their growing connection feel more genuine, which was refreshing to see.
The characters felt animated and leaped off the page, each with their own style of personality. Each scene felt emotionally charged, with characters clashing in terms of their wants and needs.
The worldbuilding was done well, creating an intriguing space in which to imagine the story’s events unravelling. As part of this incredible worldbuilding, the author created a unique magic system, based on inheriting the powers of certain Gods, which I found fascinating.
Finally, there were so many unexpected twists and turns that made me smile and audibly gasp in awe as they caught me off guard. I never knew what to expect next and couldn’t stop turning the pages.
Four specific quotes stood out to me whilst reading Strands of Existence: Island Girl.
1) ‘ Some chain themselves out of fear and need years of practice just to be themselves.’
2) ‘Emotional scars don’t listen to reason.’
3) ‘Those who do not wish to confront the truth receive a watertight explanation for everything, so they don’t need to listen to the nagging doubts they may have had.’
4) ‘We must be the ones to become Gods, and forget our humanity as we do. Do not be good, do not be evil, be change.’
These quotes examine the nature of our emotional fears, as well as our frequent reluctance to listen to the truth, or be the change we seek in the wider world.
Overall, Strands of Existence: Island Girl was a fantastical read, with many unexpected twists that caught me off guard. Its magical system was well executed, and its characters full of life and conflicting emotions.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of fascinating fantasy books, with surprise twists and turns.
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Wishing you a wonderful week,