I have had the privilege of being collaborating with Xchyler Publishing Author, Alyson Grauer several times in the past and it is my pleasure to provide this review of her break out novel ‘On the Isle of Sound and Wonder’. An author of several published works of short fiction, Alyson take the next step in this long work and invites us in to a world woven with Shakespeare, magic, and steam.
On the Isle of Sound and Wonder (OISW) is, in a word, impressive.
From the very outset of the book you find yourself in an engaging world of magic and machines. Grauer leads you through the mystery of Mira’s peculiar past, and always toward the inevitable destiny one can’t help but anticipate with excitement.
The work is based around Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, a work that I am not intimately familiar with. However, this novel stands quite well on its own two feet. Interwoven into the tale is a great deal of magic, and some rather fantastic creatures that complicate every step for Mira and her friends. On top of that, there is yet another layer of steampunk flavor where airships, automatons, and other instruments, classic to the genre, are applied to further enhance the unique style of the tale.
I’ve read a fair number of indie and breakout author novels. Miss Grauer really impressed me. Her world was vivid, her prose polished and engaging, and her characters were so well developed that you empathized even with the villains for the sake of the distraught back-stories that brought them to their sinister deeds. Most of the time, the book read like the work of a veteran author.
My favorite character’s were the monster Karuburan, and the wicked imp Aurael, though I was a little suspicious that his name was only one letter different from mine… The protagonist of the story is a true ‘strong female character’ if ever I saw one. She leads without either belittling, or emulating the opposite sex. Vulnerable and real, she does her acts of heroism simply because it is ‘the right thing to do’.
I won’t complain too much, since I collaborate with Miss Grauer occasionally, and you wouldn’t believe me anyway. All I will say is, while there are dirigibles and automatons aplenty I, was hoping the story would be more driven by steampunk. The major genre forces that drive the OISW are magic, which are great in themselves. However, I was hoping for something more steampunk motivated, like Grauer’s short story ‘Lavenza‘ where the plot is driven by the protagonists discovery that she is an automaton. It’s a petty stylistic preference really. My only other comment, and not even a complaint, is that the story, while never graphic or scandalous, has some elements that might be mature for very young readers. I will admit that I have an overly sensitive nature, and was really upset by some of the abuse the characters suffered, even if it was only evidenced in its repercussions.
I will certainly read OISW again, and that says a lot coming from someone with a long list of books waiting to be read! Take a read of OISW for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
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