(Star system is at the bottom if you would like to know how I review books)
Sparked – I absolutely love tales of shape-shifters and so when the back of the book promised me an African fantasy with shape-shifting demons, I bought the book in a heartbeat, and I wasn’t disappointed. The cover, while I try not to judge a book by its cover (especially since the author may have no control over it), also drew me in as well.
Characterization – The people written about were true beings with strengths, flaws, and the little details that make readers fall in love with some characters over others. I most certainly had my favorite beings (and, of course, those characters you love to hate as well!) Well written, and it was a joy to follow them on their stories. I enjoyed the different tribes that gathered and how they intermingled with each other.
Plot – Some of it I guessed from the clues dropped by the writer, but noting was predictive in a boring sense, more that a reader looking for clues will find some and draw their own conclusions. I was a little annoyed at the ending (on one hand) since I wanted one thing and it went in the complete opposite different direction (not a bad direction, but I was hoping with all my heart for a particular ending and alas, it was not meant to be).
Flow – Very nicely paced, I didn’t find any section too slow or too fast, and each part had their own thread into the tapestry being woven. The fight sections were at a good flow and the “slower” sections had currents that moved the whole story along, in addition to character backgrounds that revealed themselves piece by piece (and thankfully weren’t info dumps).
Evoked – I had to put the book down and make a noise of pain when the character I loved the most was in trouble. Then I picked it back up to frantically read and hope that they were okay (not naming anyone here since I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else). It’s been a long while since an author has gotten me to put a book down out of concern for the characters, so my hat is off to Antoine Bandele!
1st star – Sparked. You caught my attention and I bought your book. It can be anything from a fellow reader recommending it to the blurb on the back; the title (though you might not have had any decision in titling it) to another author I like endorsing you.
2nd star – Characterization. The characters were true to themselves: they had flaws and strengths, they were consistent, and their actions were fun to read about. No cardboard cutouts in sight!
3rd star – Plot. Interesting, intriguing, and if there happen to be plot holes, either I’m willing to disbelieve or they were small enough that I didn’t notice them. I’m fine with either.
4th star – Flow. The pacing of the story, if there were any doldrums or hurricanes during the steady rain of words (I’m from Florida, so the hurricanes might even work for me!)
5th star – Evoked. Sometime during the story I laughed aloud or had to put the book down for a few seconds to suck in a “ooh that hurt / oooh this is not going to end well” breath. Or, when I finished, there was a satisfying sigh at the end for a tale well told.