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July 8, 2017

Review: The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold #1) by Traci Chee

Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.

Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold #1)
by Traci Chee
Publication Date:  September 13, 2016
Publisher:  Putnam

    

 

We couldn’t find a trailer, so here’s a song!

 

This review is a bit of a throwback for me, in that I read Traci Chee’s The Reader about a year ago, and to this day, haven’t been able to get my mind off of it. The Reader was, undoubtedly, one of the best books to come out of 2016—and even here in 2017, is still one of the best novels I’ve read to this day. Everything about it was just so well done. The execution was stellar. And to this day, it still boggles my mind that The Reader isn’t a novel that I am seeing at every turn. This is a series on par with Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse or Cassandra Claire’s world of Shadowhunters; this is a novel that has star power.

              It’s now midway through 2017, and I don’t want to see anybody sleeping on this novel. We need to give The Reader the respect it deserves. Okay? Okay.

              The Reader takes place in the fantasy realm of Oxscini, where Sefia and her aunt Nin have been left on the run after the brutal murder of Sefia’s father, living in constant fear of being tracked down and taken by his killers. Nin has taught Sefia what she needs to know in order to survive, yet when Nin is kidnapped by the same people they’ve been outrunning, Sefia is forced to use her cunning and skills to get her back. Left alone with only a strange, rectangular object as a clue to Nin’s whereabouts, Sefia embarks on a journey that will unveil the secrets kept from her by her family.

              That brief blurb honestly does nothing to truly describe how awesome the plot for the Reader is. There were several storylines taking place at once, and initially (as a reader), I was confused. How did a story detailing the relationship between an assassin and a librarian coincide with Sefia’s tale? Why were there scenes describing the adventures of Captain Reed and his crew? Why did Sefia cross paths with Archer, and how does his story fall in line with her own? In its entirety, The Reader was one giant puzzle whose pieces fell together perfectly. I couldn’t have been more impressed with a storyteller’s abilities, and for that I applaud Chee.

              Chee’s writing is also stunning. I’ve lost count of how many times I read her prose and was speechless with how beautiful her writing was. Not only is her writing impressive, but it has a way of reeling the reader in and propelling the story forward. Everything flowed smoothly and consistently. It made The Reader a joy to read.

              On a more personal note, I should also add that I am obsessed with historical fantasy and (more specifically) the time period where pirates sailed the seas. Captain Reed and his crew were a dream come true. Every story about Captain Reed felt like a treat. Everything about Captain Reed was perfect, he was probably my favorite character, and I will die defending him. I know that I can’t be the only person who read this novel and thought as much.

              All in all I would recommend The Reader to anyone and everyone. Do you like fantasy? Go read this book. Do you like action? Go read this book. Do you like romance? Go read this book. Do you like reading? Go read this book. Like, now.

 

About Traci Chee

Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at piano playing, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog. The Reader is her YA debut.

 

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