Book Review: Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles #1) by Intisar Khanani

sunbolt_coverFNL_toshareTitle: Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles #1)

Author: Intisar Khanani

Genre: Fantasy, Serial Novella

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon (Paperback), Amazon (Kindle), B&N

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

Sunbolt reminded me of Assassin’s Creed (the video game). There’s a lot of imagination and power behind the story. Author Intisar Khahani succeeds in bringing to life a magical, extraordinary world where magic is real, but remains hidden, where an underground Shadow League tries to keep order in the middle of chaos, and where evil has more than one face. This fast-paced, well-written novella is the first in a new series, and what a start it is. If all books in this series have a pace as relentless as this one, then I’ll be absolutely hooked.

Hitomi is a Promise, a magical talent who was secretely trained by her parents but who tries to keep her powers hidden from the outside world. Her parents passed away years ago, and ever since, Hitomi has been on her own to fend for herself. There’s plenty of danger in Hitomi’s world, sometimes as mundane as being attacked by soldiers wanting to know if she’s a mutt or a half-breed, and sometimes it comes in the shape of the evil archmage Blackflame, who the Shadow League tries to undermine. Hitomi is a strong but compassionate young woman who isn’t afraid to put her own life at risk to safe the lives of others. Her courage is admirable, her intentions always on the right side, but she’s definitely no Mary Sue. In fact, I dare argue that at times, Hitomi’s best qualities tend to bring her the most trouble, like her courage, or the way she keeps on risking everything, even for those who betrayed her.

What impressed me the most is Intisar Khahani’s ability to combine well-known elements of fantasy with newer, fresher elements and to craft it into something remarkably beautiful. The setting of Hitomi’s world, the vibrant, mysterious city of Karolene, is so detailed and well-described it almost comes to life on the pages. The side characters have their own personalities, quirks and sense of humor, crafting them into three-dimensional characters, no matter how small their part to play.

Sunbolt was a fast-paced, intriguing, well-written story that’s left me wanting more. I don’t want to wait for the second installment, but alas, I’ll have to. Fortunately these are novellas, so they probably don’t take as long to write as full-length novels, which hopefully translates into faster releases. Either way, I can’t wait for the next novella in this series!


  1. Hi Majanka –
    Thanks so much for your review of “Sunbolt” – I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It was a lot of fun to write, and a very different experience from my debut novel, Thorn. It was certainly faster to write, though I’m beginning to think that a novella takes almost as much work as a novel … developing the plot, world and characters takes just as long, but thankfully there is a little less actual content to revise!
    I’m going to have to go look up Assassin’s Creed now …

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