‘The Spirit Child’ (Seven Realms of Ar’rothi, Book 1) by Alison Naomi Holt

This book is fantasy-ish, in that it is a couple of worlds we know pretty well melded together. The setting is somewhere between mediaeval, and American West circa 1880. The book seemed to have a bit of trouble sorting out what it wanted to be and where it was going in the early stages. The main protagonist, Bree, has suffered the death of her wife from plague and is still in the throes of grief. For reasons she doesn’t understand herself, she rescues a little orphan girl being sold in town. A great battle of wills between Bree and the little girl Bree names Kaiti, ensues. They come close to killing each other before they find a way to communicate. Even when a kind of relationship has developed, it teeters always on the edge of violence and rejection. The first quarter of the book is taken up with the limited development of their relationship and this reader did begin to feel we were treading and retreading the same ground after a while.

For me, the book finds its feet when the world of the First Nation Shona collides with the more outwardly sophisticated Anacafrian world of the Bree, who as well as a farmer in the backwoods is a part time duchess at the Anacafrian court and an heir to its throne (how does she fit it all in?). The Shona have each a spirit guide with whom they are very close. The Anacrafrians also have such guides, but most are not even aware they have one, and are unable to communicate with them.

The orphan Kaiti – the spirit child of the title – becomes a bridge between the two peoples. And also between the seven realms of the series title. Unusually, she can see all the spirit guides.

I enjoyed the development of the spirit guides, which come into their own in the later stages of the book. The book is, in the end, about the guides and their troubles. But it does take a long time to orientate itself in that direction. The setup is complete in this book, so the ensuing volumes should be more certain of their plot direction.

I found it odd that the First Nation should be called the Shona. The characteristics of the Shona people had a strong feel of a native American tribe about it. But the Shona are a real African tribe, making up the majority of the population of Zimbabwe.

However, by the time the book drew to a close I was interested to find out what happens next and will probably give the second book a try.


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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